Iran, Philippines to Improve Banking Relations

The Philippines and Iran have agreed to expand bilateral ties, beginning with establishing banking relations and renewing economic cooperation between the two countries.

Financial Tribune- The Philippines and Iran have agreed to expand bilateral ties, beginning with establishing banking relations and renewing economic cooperation between the two countries.

In a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia-Pacific Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour offered Tehran’s assistance in helping Philippines’ energy needs and expressed the hope that banking relations with Manila could be established soon, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) reported on Friday. 

Rahimpour also raised the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Iran and extended the invitation as well to Dominguez.   “We are focused on expanding bilateral relations with the Philippines. At the same time, we are ready to increase the level of engagement in the Philippines, including in the area of banking,” Rahimpour said.

He also said that Iran can help “secure the [Philippines’] energy needs for the future.”   Iran’s Ambassador Mohammad Tanhaei, who was also at the meeting, said Rahimpour’s visit “reflects the special attention of our government to the Philippines.” 

Dominguez said as member of his country’s Monetary Board, he was ready to assist Iranian officials in establishing a branch of one of its banks, and said he would explore the possibility of setting up a branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines in Iran to address the banking and remittance needs of Filipino workers in that country. 

“We know that you’re open for business now, you have been open for business before, but now, it’s going to be much easier to transact with your [government], and we look at Iran as a good potential partner for the Philippines in the Middle East. It’s a great country, and we admire your history and your people,” Dominguez told Rahimpour. 

Dominguez said “there are very, very good prospects” of the government procuring a part of its fuel and fertilizer requirements from Iran while, at the same time, reinvigorating the export of Philippine bananas to that country.

  In an earlier meeting with Dominguez, Ambassador Tanhaei said Iran plans to increase its imports of bananas from the Philippines, along with exploring areas of cooperation in the energy sector and investing in infrastructure projects here.   Tanhaei has said he has been coordinating with local business groups, like the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to explore areas of investments for Iranian companies. 

 “In the (Iranian) private sector…for example regarding bananas, there are some big companies that say  they need more bananas from the Philippines,” Tanhaei said.   Filipino banana producers used to export 30% of their produce to Iran. Trade sanctions imposed on Iran, however, led to a decline in Philippine banana shipments. The recent lifting of sanctions could mean Iran might once again be one of Philippines’ largest markets for its fresh banana exports.

Tanhaei has also said Iranian companies are interested to invest in the Philippines, particularly in infrastructure, power transmission and water purification projects   The Tehran government has expressed interest in working with the Philippines’ energy sector, particularly in the fields of oil exploration and petroleum trade, Tanhaei said.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Iran were established in 1964. Iran has officially supported the peace process in Mindanao and also backed Manila’s bid for observer status in the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Financial Tribune
Publish Date: Nov 29, 2016