No cap on size and volume of SHTA transactions for Iran: Swiss official

A senior trade official in Switzerland has said that there is no cap on the size and volume of SHTA transactions and that Switzerland had finalized the details of the mechanism with US authorities.

2 February 2020
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A senior trade official in Switzerland has said that there is no cap on the size and volume of SHTA transactions and that Switzerland had finalized the details of the mechanism with US authorities.

An Iranian pharmacist arranges medicine on shelves at a pharmacy in central Tehran, Iran, Dec. 11, 2012. Photo: AP

A senior trade official in Switzerland has said that the country’s newly-launched financial channel meant to bring humanitarian items to Iran would guarantee that Tehran receives some of the badly-needed medicines whose delivery have been hampered by the American sanctions on the country.

Erwin Bollinger, a senior official at Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), said in remarks published on Saturday that many companies and businesses have declared their readiness to engage in trade of humanitarian items with Iran since the Swiss channel was launched earlier this week.

The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) was launched on Thursday with a first trade for delivery of cancer and organ transplant drugs to Iran worth 2.3 million euros ($2.54m).

Reports have suggested that the transaction was processed via Swiss lender Banque de Commerce et de Placements (BCP) using credits belonging to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

The aim of the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) is to ensure that exporters and trading companies in the food, pharmaceutical and medical sectors based in Switzerland have a secure payment channel with a Swiss bank through which payments for their exports to Iran are guaranteed, the Embassy of Switzerland in Iran said in a statement. 

The SHTA was developed by Switzerland in close cooperation with the relevant authorities in the USA and Iran, as well as with selected Swiss banks and companies, the statement said. It further added that under the SHTA, the US Department of the Treasury will provide the banks involved with the necessary assurances that the financial transactions can be processed in accordance with US legislation. 

Bollinger told Iran’s official IRNA agency that there was no cap on the size and volume of SHTA transactions and that Switzerland had finalized the details of the mechanism with US authorities.

“As long as there is sufficient (Iranian) credit in Swiss banks, there would be no restrictions,” he said, adding, “The significance of this mechanism is that it can guarantee transfer of medicine to Iran.”
Iranian authorities have welcomed a first transaction through the SHTA which came after more than a year of direct consultations between SECO and US Department of Treasury.

However, CBI chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said that it was obvious that Washington was still opposed to more inclusive trade of such items with Iran despite repeated claims that its sanctions do not affect the supply of food and medicine to the country.

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