6 countries join EU-initiated payment channel with Iran as shareholders

Six European countries have decided to join the EU-initiated payment system with Iran as shareholders, according to a joint statement by France, Germany and the United Kingdom issued on Saturday.

“As founding shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), France, Germany and the United Kingdom warmly welcome the decision taken by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, to join INSTEX as shareholders,” said the statement.

“This step further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA),” it added.

The three countries also reiterated the “utmost importance” of the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the JCPoA without delay,” said the statement.

“We reaffirm our readiness to consider all mechanisms in the JCPoA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran’s implementation of its JCPoA commitments,” it said.

The INSTEX payment channel with Iran intends to facilitate trade with Iran and skirt U.S. anti-Iran sanctions after Washington pulled out of the 2015 landmark JCPOA in May 2018. Washington has warned EU nations against such actions.

According to media reports, INSTEX will be based in Paris and will be managed by German banking expert Per Fischer, a former manager at Commerzbank. The UK will head the supervisory board.

The European side intends to use the channel initially only to sell food, medicine and medical devices in Iran. However, it will be possible to expand it in the future.