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Iran to use foreign funds to pay for car imports: MIMT

Iran’s trade ministry spokesman says 200,000 cars will be imported into the country until June.

Iran will use funds blocked in other countries because of US sanctions to pay for import of cars, according to a spokesman of the country’s ministry of trade (MIMT).

Omid Ghalibaf said on Monday that some 200,000 cars will be imported into Iran in the six months to late June.

That comes more than four years after Iran imposed an outright ban on imports of finished cars in a bid to tighten hard currency spending and to shield its economy against US sanctions.

Ghalibaf said new regulations adopted for car imports provide for easier and more innovative ways of settling payments to foreign suppliers.  

“The car imports manual .... has set out some good options in this regard but the important point is that foreign reserves will be used to pay for hard currency,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Iran has tens of billions worth of hard currency funds in China, South Korea, Japan, Iraq and elsewhere which it cannot easily access because banks in those countries fear that processing the funds could expose them to sanctions-related risks.

Iran has used a small part of its blocked funds to settle barter trade payments or to pay for certain infrastructure projects. However, authorities insist the funds should be returned to Iran in their entirety regardless of whether the US sanctions on Iran will be lifted or not.

Central Bank of Iran Governor Ali Salehabadi said on Monday that Iran and South Korea would soon work out an agreement that would lead to the release of more than $7 billion in Iranian funds in South Korea.

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