SWIFT must remain open to all banks worldwide!
Expert on sanctions issues and international trade of the VDMA
International payment transactions are the lifeblood for the export driven industry in Europe. The VDMA is therefore calling for rapid clarification of the alleged blockade of Iranian banks by the payment service provider SWIFT. “Any restriction on SWIFT’s neutrality is unacceptable,” emphasises VDMA Executive Director Thilo Brodtmann
According to media reports, the Belgian organisation SWIFT has blocked the access of several Iranian banks to the international financial system. Should this prove to be the case, it would be a harsh blow against free world trade, which is vital for the survival of European industry. “SWIFT is the lifeblood of international payments. Any restriction, however small, on the neutrality of this system is unacceptable. Today Iran, tomorrow Russia and then China? This is about far more than Iran,” emphasises Thilo Brodtmann, Executive Director of the VDMA.
The VDMA therefore expects SWIFT and the German authorities to clarify the most important issues without delay:
- Which financial institutions do not receive SWIFT services any longer?
- What is the legal basis for this?
- If practical or technical reasons were decisive: which ones?
- Which SWIFT committee made the decision?
In the opinion of the VDMA, maximum transparency and credibility must be created quickly, also in the interests of SWIFT. “If SWIFT is put under pressure, business must help the service provider to maintain its neutrality. To this end, we expect honest information so that we can understand the background,” explains Brodtmann.
SWIFT is the lifeblood of international payments. Any restriction, however small, on the neutrality of this system is unacceptable.
It’s about more than Iran
In this context, the VDMA refers to statements made by German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, most recently at the Ambassadors’ Conference in Berlin in August. Maas left no doubt about the existential importance of a neutral payment service provider for Germany and Europe and called for the creation of a stable system resistant to extra-territorial sanctions. The VDMA supports this demand with the goal of optimising the resilience of SWIFT.
From the point of view of the association, this matter is far more than just about Iran policy. If SWIFT actually excludes Iran from international payment transactions, there will be no more reliability in transactions with Russia or with any other states involved in political disputes or likely to become so in the future, explains Klaus Friedrich, expert on sanctions issues and international trade of the VDMA. In view of the current situation in Iran policy, however, the matter is time-critical because the nuclear agreement is coming under increasing pressure from week to week.