Challenges and opportunities in co-operation with Iran
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”.