Tehran tells Beirut to trade in Lebanese pound

Iran’s trade relationships with Lebanon are not very significant compared with Syria or Iraq. Foreign Minister Zarif’s recent visit to the Middle Eastern country has been aimed at pushing economic cooperation.

13 February 2019
ID : 11827
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Iran’s trade relationships with Lebanon are not very significant compared with Syria or Iraq. Foreign Minister Zarif’s recent visit to the Middle Eastern country has been aimed at pushing economic cooperation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut.

Iran has offered Lebanon to continue mutual trade in Lebanese pound in a bid to further boost mutual trade, according to Lebaneses media.

“[Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif proposed Lebanon the same joint working mechanism that it has with some European countries, Russia, Turkey, China and India,” wrote the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar who went on to explain “that means Iran and Lebanon do commerce in Lebanese pound”.

Three European countries, Germany, France, the UK, who remain in the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran despite the US withdrawal, have set a non-dollar financial channel, called INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange), in a bid to allow the uninterrupted export of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and agri-foods.   

The paper described the offer as “very very important”, saying the mechanism will help Lebanon to import products via its national currency that could be strengthened through this mechanism.

The small Mideastern country’s annual imports stand at 20 billion dollars while it can export only three and a half billion dollars, according to Al Akhbar. That means it needs to buy forex to fill this gap. The newspaper reports that Russia has also proposed the same mechanism but the Lebanese government hasn’t taken any step so far.

Zarif was in Lebanon to tell the new Lebanese government that “Iran is ready to cooperate with Lebanon in all sectors.” He was the first foreign minister who visited the country since Lebanese politicians decided to end a month-long political dead-end.

Iran exported about $89 million worth of goods to Lebanon in the last fiscal year (March 2016-17), up from $83 million the year before, the deputy head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran in Arabic-African Affairs Office, Yahya Fathi, was cited by IRNA as saying.

The main goods exported from Iran to Lebanon during the period included carpet, flooring, pistachio, soft drinks, shrimp, raisins, faucets, yeast and vehicles.

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