Iran, India move closer on trade as EU stalls

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Iran, India move closer on trade as EU stalls

  • India recently signed a deal with Iran to buy crude in rupees rather than US dollars
  • India imports around 80 percent of its oil needs

NEW DELHI: Iran will boost trade with India as the European Union struggles to find a way to circumvent a fresh US embargo on Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tuesday.
Brussels is working on a payment mechanism to keep financial transactions flowing with Iran, after the US ditched the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran earlier this year and reintroduced a raft of sanctions on the country.
But Zarif told reporters in New Delhi that the EU’s delay in implementing the system meant Iran would look elsewhere.
“Europeans have made efforts but couldn’t... progress up to our expectations. We will expand our cooperation via various channels such as India,” Zarif said after meeting India’s transport minister, as quoted by Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA.
The EU hopes its “special purpose vehicle” (SPV) announced in September will keep the nuclear deal alive and persuade Tehran to stay on board by giving companies a way of trading with Iran without violating Washington’s sanctions.
But Brussels is struggling to find a host for the SPV and many EU companies are fearful of repercussions from US President Donald Trump’s administration.
India, which imports around 80 percent of its oil needs, recently signed a deal with Iran to buy crude in rupees rather than US dollars, helping it get around the sanctions.
Zarif added that Iran was “very happy” that the Indian government was allowing the Iranian Bank Pasargad to open a branch in India’s financial capital of Mumbai.
India also recently took over the running of part of Iran’s Chabahar Port, in the Gulf of Oman, as the countries build closer ties.
“We hope, despite US sanctions, Iran and India will have more cooperation in line with the interests of the people and the two countries,” said Zarif.


Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

Updated 18 June 2019
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Lebanon’s Hariri calls for cabinet solidarity in budget debate

  • The PM said cabinet ministers need to be united and responsible
  • Lebanon’s debt is almost 150% of its GDP

BEIRUT, June 18 : Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday called for parliament to quickly approve the country’s 2019 budget and urged his coalition government to avoid internal disputes.
The cabinet this month agreed a budget plan that shrinks the projected fiscal deficit by 4 percentage points from last year to 7.6% by cutting spending and raising taxes and other fees.
“What I want during the debate is for us to be responsible and united, and not contradictory,” Hariri said in a statement, addressing cabinet ministers as to their comportment during the parliament debate.
Parliament’s finance committee is debating the draft budget and has suggested amendments, local newspapers reported. It will then put the budget to the full assembly to ratify it.
Parliament is mostly composed of parties that are also present in the coalition government and which supported the budget there.
Since the budget was agreed there have been fierce arguments between parties in the coalition over several subjects, though these have not targeted the budget.
Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest debt burdens, equivalent to about 150% of GDP, and the International Monetary Fund has urged it to cut spending.
“We have held 19 cabinet meetings to agree on this draft budget and these sessions were not for fun, but for deep, detailed debate over every clause and every idea,” Hariri said.
“For this reason, I consider it the responsibility of each of us in government to have ministerial solidarity...to defend in parliament the decision that we have taken together,” he added.
After the 2019 budget is agreed, the cabinet must quickly start working on the 2020 budget and on approving the first phase of a program of investments toward which foreign donors have offered $11 billion in project financing. (Reporting by Angus McDowall, editing by Ed Osmond)