Chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties in co-op­er­a­tion with Iran

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Har­ris Ge­or­giades said there were chal­lenges but also op­por­tu­ni­ties of an eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with Iran, ad­dress­ing the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing of the Cyprus-Iran Busi­ness Association.

He stressed that the govern­ment re­mains com­mit­ted to build­ing a long-term and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial eco­nomic part­ner­ship with Iran.

The Min­is­ter said that eco­nomic co-op­er­a­tion with Iran is still con­fronted with chal­lenges, not­ing that the most sig­nif­i­cant of these chal­lenges re­lates to the ex­ter­nal dif­fi­cul­ties for Euro­pean banks to op­er­ate in Iran.

“In part, the re­luc­tance or hesitation of banks to en­gage in Iran comes for the ef­fects of US sanc­tions. It is also partly due to con­sid­er­a­tions re­lat­ing to cur­rent in­ter­na­tional bank­ing stan­dards as well as anti-money laun­der­ing and counter-ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing con­trols” he said.

Ge­or­giades said that from the side of Iran, there may be scope to fur­ther mod­ernise its busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in sec­tors like bank­ing and fi­nance, prop­erty right pro­tec­tion, public pro­cure­ment and the stan­dard­i­s­a­tion and reg­u­la­tory frame­work in var­i­ous sec­tors.

“De­spite the chal­lenges, I con­sider the re­cent de­vel­op­ments on eco­nomic re­la­tions with Iran as promis­ing. There is an in­crease in trade and travel be­tween Iran and the EU, and Cyprus seems to be fol­low­ing this trend espe­cially on travel and tourism. And there is def­i­nitely will­ing­ness on both sides to do busi­ness,” he stressed.

He con­cluded by high­light­ing the high po­ten­tial of Iran in terms of eco­nomic growth, an ed­u­cated work­force, nat­u­ral re­sources and the need for up­grad­ing in­fra­struc­tures in var­i­ous sec­tors, and the ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties which are be­gin­ning to emerge and which we should all nur­ture and sup­port.

The Min­is­ter said that Cyprus has rat­i­fied the Agree­ment on the Avoid­ance of Dou­ble Tax­a­tion and Fis­cal Eva­sion, signed last year be­tween the two coun­tries and that na­tional pro­ce­dures in Iran may also be con­cluded by the end of the year, “thus paving the way for the com­ing into force of this im­por­tant, frame­work set­ting agree­ment”.

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