Iran to use $125m of assets held in Iraq to buy Covid-19 vaccines

May 29, 2021 - 13:51

TEHRAN – Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian, who is the chairman of the Iran-Iraq Joint Economic Committee, has said Iraq is going to transfer $125 million of its energy dues to Iran to a European bank to be paid for 16 million COVAX Covid-19 vaccines.

“The necessary license has been issued to provide $125 million of Iran's resources in Iraq for purchasing 16 million doses of the COVAX vaccine and transfer this amount to a European bank,” Ardakanian said.

According to the Energy Ministry’s portal Paven, the official noted that the paperwork is expected to be done by the end of the week and the vaccines will soon be provided to the Iranian Health Ministry.

Iraq owes Iran over $6 billion for electricity and gas imports from the Islamic Republic, of which $3 billion is claimed to be blocked and inaccessible in the Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI).

Back in March, the Deputy Head of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce said that the Arab country has started repaying its energy debts to Iran and part of the dues has been settled.

“This achievement is the result of diplomacy and pursuit of the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), the energy minister and the head of the Judiciary,” Hamid Hosseini told IRNA.

Ardakanian visited Iraq in late December 2020 to meet with senior officials from the country and discuss the country’s energy debts to Iran.

Upon returning to Tehran, Ardakanian said that Iraq was going to open a euro bank account to pave the way for settling all the country’s gas and electricity dues to Iran.

“Based on an agreement which is going to be implemented in the coming days, Iraq is going to open a euro savings bank account in which the country’s debts to National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) and the Power Generation, Distribution, and Transmission Company (known as Tavanir) will be saved,” Ardakanian said at the time.

“Iraq's recent and past debts to our country will be transferred and saved in this account after being exchanged to euro,” the minister said.

This way, transferring the money or using it for purchasing basic goods and medicine will be less problematic considering the U.S. sanctions, he emphasized.

Ardakanian had announced the formation of a committee for working on the issue and said: "As the Iranian head of the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee, I will monitor the process on a daily basis until we achieve desirable results."

EF/MA

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