• Cuba says interested in Iran-EU clearing mechanism

Cuba has expressed interest in a plan by the European Union to create a mechanism to get round US sanctions against Iran, saying it hopes the mechanism would also help it sidestep the trade embargo that Washington has imposed on it for decades now.  

A senior Cuban official was quoted as saying by media that Havana was watching the progress of discussions between Tehran and Brussels over the creation of a "special purpose vehicle" (SPV) which would provide a tentative solution for clearing payments to Iran normally banned under US sanctions. 

"There was a mention of this instrument and we of course also raised the interest that we would have in any solution of this kind that would allow European companies to become increasingly involved in foreign investment and bilateral trade with Cuba," senior Cuban foreign ministry official Rodolfo Reyes told AFP.

Despite a thawing of ties under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, the US still has a sweeping economic embargo in force against Cuba that dates back to the 1960s, AFP reported.

The SPV would in theory allow Iran to keep selling oil and European companies to continue doing business in the country despite the US sanctions.

The EU proposed the mechanism to help protect the economic benefits for Iran from the 2015 nuclear agreement that the members of the Security Council plus Germany sealed with the country.

The SPV is a kind of clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods in an effective barter arrangement circumventing US sanctions, based on global use of the dollar for oil sales

It aims to dodge the global reach of the US financial system by using an EU intermediary to handle trade with Iran. It could ensure, for example, that Iranian oil bought by Europeans could be paid for with EU goods and services of the same value.

The administration of US President Donald Trump launched the second wave of sanctions against Iran from November 5 in which a universal ban on the country’s oil exports is a primary objective.

US officials have already said the sanctions would be meant to bring down Iran’s oil exports to zero among other restrictions. However, Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected the feasibility of this, stressing that international consumers cannot afford to lose Iranian supplies.

MG

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Nov 20, 2018 06:42 UTC
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