U.S. using SHTA as propaganda tool: Iran-Switzerland chamber of commerce president

May 11, 2020 - 16:26

TEHRAN — The president of the Iran-Switzerland Joint Chamber of Commerce has said the Trump administration uses the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA) as one of its propaganda tools.

In an interview with ILNA, Sharif Nezam-Mafi said the United States claims to have set up a humanitarian channel, but in practice does not allow it to be used.

The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement is a payment mechanism aimed at enabling the basic goods to be delivered to Iran.

The aim of the SHTA is to ensure that exporters and trading companies in the food, pharmaceutical, and medical sectors based in Switzerland have a secure payment channel with a Swiss bank through which payments for their exports to Iran are guaranteed.

Nezam-Mafi said the channel is like the “piggy bank” and since the United States does not allow money to be transferred to this channel, it is clear that this process is not practical.

He confirmed that the world’s largest agribusiness companies in the world are also present in SHTA channel, which can help Iran to provide 20 million tons of grain that it needs but it depends on the transfer of money to the account.

Referring to the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, the Iranian expert said, “If Joe Biden – now the presumptive Democratic nominee – wins the election, the channel could be more prosperous.”

Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, has said the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement does not match Iran’s humanitarian needs in the current situation

“On 27 February 2020, the U.S. Treasury finalized with much fanfare ‘the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement’ allowing certain humanitarian transactions with Iran,” he said. 

“However,” the ambassador added, “this narrow channel does not match Iran’s humanitarian needs in the current situation.”

Announced in late January and declared operational a month later, the SHTA was supposed to ensure that “humanitarian goods continue to reach the Iranian people without diversion by the regime,” as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on February 27.