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World's biggest bank requests to set up branches in Iran

Iran says China's ICBC - the world's largest bank by total assets - has requested to open branches in the country.

A top banking official in Tehran said on Thursday that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) – the world’s largest bank by total assets – has request to open branches in Iran.

Hossein Yaqoubi Miab, the director for the international affairs of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), said the ICBC has specifically requested its branches to be established in the free trade zone of the Kish Island as well as Iran’s mainland.

Yaqoubi Miab said similar requests have also been presented to Iran over the past few days by banks from Austria, Italy and Lebanon. This, he emphasized, shows that the environment is already prepared for investments in the Iranian economy after the recent removal of sanctions against the country.  “The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) encourages such initiatives [by international banks],” the official added.    

He further said that the presence of foreign banks will help enhance Iran’s expertise over technical issues relating to the banking and financial services besides many other important advantages. 

This past Saturday, the economic sanctions against Iran were lifted after a nuclear deal that the country had sealed last year with the P5+1 group of countries – the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – was implemented.

A central theme of the sanctions that have now been removed was restrictions on banking transactions with Iran.

Iran has already emphasized that it welcomes the opening of foreign banks in the country.  In 2008, it put into effect a much-awaited privatization law which allows the normal functioning of foreign banks in the country.  Accordingly, the government of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) determined the rules for regulating the activities of foreign banks later in 2009.  

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