Economy, Business And Markets

Seif Was Candid in US Meetings

Seif Was Candid in US Meetings Seif Was Candid in US Meetings

The visit by the central bank governor to Washington three months after the implementation of the nuclear deal is important, the director of the CBI’s public relations department, Mohammad Ali Karimi said on Saturday.

“Seif’s main point was that the actions taken by the US and other western countries after the implementation of the nuclear deal are not enough compared to Iran’s efforts and actions,” he was quoted as saying by the CBI website.

Karimi’s comments come amid heavy criticism aired by domestic conservative media outlets highlighting Valiollah Seif’s comments at the IMF-World Bank meeting and The Council on Foreign Relations in Washington rebuking western powers for falling short of their promises in the nuclear deal with the six world powers. The outlets used (abused) Seif’s comments as proof that the nuclear accord had not produced any tangible benefits for Iran.

Karimi added that his comments were meant to compel the US to honor the deal and be fully committed to its tasks under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Pointing to Seif’s words in the CFR, Karimi said, “He did not say that we are not connected to SWIFT. It is strange that some media outlets quote him as having said that.”

Seif talked about foreign banks’ unwillingness to connect with Iran for fear of US penalties and the prohibition of conducting dollar transactions with Iran.

The CBI governor visited the US to participate in the Spring Meetings of International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He used the forum to urge the United States and European Union to help Iran access the global financial system.

  Not Enough

Seif said that nothing has happened for nearly three months [January 16, when the sanctions were lifted]. “US has taken some measures like travelling to other countries to elaborate terms of the deal, or issuing licenses, but these are not enough as we still do not have access to our frozen assets.”

Karimi stressed the importance of being able to conduct foreign trade in dollars saying that the issue has to be settled. According to the JCPOA, financial relations with Iran should be eased and the six world powers (five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) should help materialize it.

The CBI official said Seif’s visit will have a positive impact on accelerating the process of reconnecting Iran with international banks. “One of the very immediate consequences of this visit was a meeting held with the CBI representatives in the US Office of Foreign Assets Control to review the issues in detail. OFAC officials promised to take quick measures to settle bilateral issues.” He did not specify the bilateral issues between the two countries that do not have diplomatic ties since 1979.

Karimi stated that Seif’s critical comments were widely covered and had a strong effect on the US media and economic circles.

Pointing to the 300 correspondent banking relations established between Iranian lenders and their foreign counterparts after the nuclear deal, he said “establishing correspondent banking relations takes time.”

  No Oil Freeze

In a separate development, Seif Sunday told CNBC in Washington, D.C. that asking Iran to freeze its oil output now is unfair.

“What Iran is doing right now is trying to get back and secure its share of the market,” Seif said, adding, “what Saudi Arabia is asking Iran to do is not a very fair [or] logical request.”

Saudi rulers have often said they would agree to an output freeze so long as Iran does likewise. Oil analysts believe the two rival powers are highly unlikely to come to any understanding to cut exports to the saturated international oil market.

Seif told CNBC that Iran, as a member of OPEC, has a quota of 2.4 million barrels per day. Under the sanctions over its nuclear program, that quota went unfilled. In those years other members increased output to fill the gap.

“And now Iran is only trying to take back the quota it is entitled to. We are going to do that and this is the main direction of our economy,” Seif added. He also said that other OPEC members are to blame for the plunging crude prices that have fallen by almost 70% compared to the summer of 2014. “This request (to cut oil output) is coming from countries that are primarily responsible for the surplus in the market, because they have exceeded output beyond their quota, and I think this is not fair,” Seif said, without naming Saudi Arabia – the oil kingdom fully responsible for the deep turmoil in the international market that is now flooded with oil but has few buyers.