Iran says it is preparing to stop using the dollar in its official statements – a move that had been in the offing but appears to have been expedited after Washington included the country in a list of seven nations that are banned from entering the United States.
Valiollah Seif, the governor of the Central Bank of Iran, was quoted by domestic media as saying that Iran would either replace the US dollar with a new common foreign currency or use a basket of currencies in all official financial and foreign exchange reports.
Seif also said that the move would take effect from the start of the new fiscal year on March 21, 2017, the media reported.
Iran’s emerging switch to non-dollar currencies comes at a time that outrage is building up in the country over an executive order by US President Donald Trump to ban Iranians from entering the United States.
Apart from Iran, citizens of Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have also been banned from entering the US for a period of 90 days.
The move drew an immediate reaction from Iran with the country's Foreign Ministry pledging a response in kind.
Seif further emphasized that Iran should use a foreign currency in its official reports that would have a high degree of stability and would be more common in foreign trade.
He added that the US dollar has an insignificant share in Iran’s foreign exchanges and that the alternative to the dollar should be what would suit the country's trade with its current key partners such as the European Union member states, China and the United Arab Emirates.
Iran has already signed agreements with several countries including Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iraq to ditch the dollar and use mutual currencies.
However, Seif emphasized that the agreements were yet to become effective given that the volume of trade with those countries was not at a level to warrant a switch to non-dollar currencies.
Bloomberg in an analysis said Iran’s decision to drop the dollar could prove to be complicated for the country given that its most important export is oil which is priced in dollars.
Iran, it said, is on course to earn $41 billion from oil sales this fiscal year. Switching its reporting to another currency will add a degree of currency risk and volatility, Bloomberg warned.
Iran’s leading economic newspaper Donya-ye Eqtesad, however, highlighted the fact that Iran was only using the dollar in official reporting and that the greenback had already been mostly replaced with other currencies in oil-related transactions over the past years given that sanctions did not allow the transfer of dollars to Iran.