ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iranian Finance Minister Shamseddin Hosseini said on Tuesday he has in the past discussed with other countries the possibility of shifting oil trade away from the dollar, but such a step would require broad agreement.
Hosseini, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the semiannual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, said he had not held any such discussions in recent days.
“Some of the countries right now accept this idea,” Hosseini said of a possible shift away from the dollar for oil. “But this is one of the subjects that needs more discussion and (to be) agreed on by everyone,” he said through an interpreter.
Hosseini said Iran agrees with the idea of shifting oil trade to a basket of currencies due to dollar weakness.
“Generally we believe that the dominance of the dollar to the economy of the world is to the detriment of everybody,” he said. “We are not alone in this belief.”
Hosseini said Iran has reaped billions of dollars of profits and averted losses by shifting reserves to the euro and other currencies from the dollar.
The Iraqi finance minister said U.S. sanctions and pressure on the international financial community to cut ties with Tehran have had little effect, as many foreign companies recognize profit opportunities with Iranian trade.
The sanctions, aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, have banned U.S. firms from business with several Iranian state banks, the oil sector and a growing list of Iranian enterprises. The U.S. Treasury Department has pressured banks in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to respect the sanctions and limit ties, with increasing success.
Hosseini said Iran, however, continues to do business freely in Dubai.
“It’s not necessary for us to circumvent the sanctions. Our partners will find a way to come forward,” Hosseini said. “Therefore after many years of sanctions, Iran continues to progress to and do its business. There are many secure ways to do business.”
Hosseini said Iran would in about six months time offer a 1.5 billion-euro Islamic bond, or sukuk. About $1 billion euros of the proceeds would go toward its domestic energy sector, while the remainder would go to “other sectors,” without specifying.
Reporting by David Lawder