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Cablegate: Iranian Importers/Exporters: Having More Problems

DE RUEHLO #2778/01 3081559
P 031559Z NOV 08

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002778


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2018
WITH FINANCING, BLAME USG-LED FINANCIAL MEASURES Classified By: Political Counselor Rick Mills for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( d)

1. (S/NF) Summary: Iranian importers and exporters are encountering ever-greater problems, in all regions including China, in obtaining trade financing due to USG-led international financial measures, according to statements by an Iran banking contact to Embassy London Iran Watcher (poloff). End summary.

2. (S/NF) An Iranian-American contact (please protect) who lives in both the U.S. and UK and has close business and personal links to the Iranian private banking sector on October 24 shared with Poloff assorted insights from colleagues and family members in Iranian banking and import/export circles. The contact was ambivalent about speaking to Poloff, and declined to provide details beyond the below. The contact claimed:

-- Letters of Credit( LOC's) for imports into or exports from Iran are increasingly hard to get for trade transactions of any kind even relatively small ones;

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-- The increasing difficulties of financing Iran trade apply to all sectors and to trade with all regions, including South and East Asia, and China, according to the contact;

-- The terms in LOC's from some Chinese banks are increasingly disadvantageous for Iranian payees;

-- Commercial transactions for Iranian imports and exports increasingly are financed off the books and are frequently in cash, including for trade with non-Western regions;

-- Such financing while feasible is, according to the contact, necessarily very small-scale; and

-- Dubai is, overwhelmingly, the epicenter for such off-the-books and/or cash-based trade; Unusual Chinese Letters of Credit ---------------------------------

3. (S/NF) Some Chinese banks in their recent LOCs are using clauses and language the contact deemed "new and unusual" in the banking industry. The language is reportedly not business-friendly, and makes the banks' obligations to pay on the LOC's less than absolute, and conditioned on elements chosen by the banks and not usually found in LOCs. The contact would not describe the details of the protective or liquidity-limiting provisions these Chinese banks are reportedly insisting on, but made it clear the new LOCs restrictiveness adds yet another dimension of difficulty and risk for an Iranian businessman seeking to import or export to or from Iran.

USG Financial Measures Frustrate, Incense Iranian Businessmen ---------------------------------

4. (S/NF) Poloff's contact said the above information and insights came from close banking associates involved in trade financing and from an Iranian exporter who sends (unspecified) retail goods from Iran to "Asian" destination(s). The contact claimed the focus of Iranian business concerns are not UNSC sanctions, but rather the "broad pressures" the USG has put on the international banking sector; it is these pressures that are, according to the contact, "poisoning the business environment" for Iran's trade.

5. (S/NF) Contact is habitually dismissive with Poloff of all aspects of U.S. policy on Iran, has substantial financial equities in U.S.-Iran trade relations, and habitually argues for an independent easing of America's trade and investment relationship with Iran, de-linked from any resolution of security or political concerns. The contact during this exchange was incensed at Poloff and the USG, emphasizing repeatedly that Iranian private bankers and importers-exporters, including those who are generally "pro-western," resent U.S.-led financial measures as "penalizing the wrong people." The contact, who apparently enjoys a comfortable, U.S./UK-based lifestyle, commented bitterly these measures are "making the dishonest ones (those associated with drugs, smuggling, corruption) rich" and "driving out of business the honest ones (those who reportedly want better Iran-U.S. relations)." LONDON 00002778 002 OF 002 Comment ------- 6. (S/NF) The above-reported trends, such as the supposedly new type of LOC, may represent commercial opportunism or conservatism by some lenders, or the strangling effect of USG-driven financial measures, or all these. End comment Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

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