Syria, Iran Reach Banking Agreement

Syria, Iran Banking Agreement

Syria and Iran governments have come to an agreement to enable bank transactions between the countries, reported Reuters.

The report, citing officials from both countries, reported the idea is to increase trade and investments between Syria and Iran. Syria, noted the report, is looking to Iran to help it rebuild. Reuters reported the agreement is just one of many the two countries reached during a visit to Damascus by Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. Iran’s support has been very important to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the war, Reuters reported.

With Damascus blocked from Western states that sided with the opposition, it has been looking to Iran, China and Russia to help it rebuild. Western restrictions have hurt bank transactions between Iran and Syria, as has Syria’s access to the international financial system. Reuters quoted Jahangiri as saying, “ministers confirmed that banking transactions will take place very soon between the countries.” Meanwhile, Reuters reported that comments being circulated by Iranian state media quoted Abdolnaser Hemmati, Iran’s central bank governor, as saying that with the agreement banks can conduct transactions in their local currencies as well non-dollar foreign currencies.

The deal between the two countries is expected to enable businesses to start rebuilding projects. Mohammad Saeed Shahmiri, an executive with the Iranian company Saab Niroo, which is focused on building infrastructure, told Reuters that the company was looking at projects in and around Damascus but hasn’t moved forward because of the banking problem. The deal could change that. “We hope if they solve this problem, immediately we can start the project here,” Shahmiri told Reuters.  Meanwhile, Keyvan Kashefi, chairman of an Iranian-Syrian chamber of commerce, said the lack of strong banking ties between the two countries in the past has raised concerns from the private sector in both Syria and Iran.

Aided by Russia and Iran, the Syrian government has been able to devastate the rebels across the country leaving them with only a corner of the northwest portion of the country, reported Reuters.