The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) says net foreign assets held by the bank and other Iranian non-bank financial institutions have surged by nearly a third over the year ending March 19.

A Thursday report by the official IRNA news agency cited CBI figures as showing that foreign reserves had increased by 27.4 percent over the past calendar year to reach a total of 11,680 trillion rials (over $62 billion).

It said net foreign assets had more than doubled compared to 2016-2017, adding that assets held by Iranian commercial banks were excluded from the calculations.

The CBI said its own foreign reserves had also increased by 17.6 percent year on year in March to reach 5,470 trillion rials (more than $29 billion).

It added that CBI assets in foreign banks had increased by less than a quarter compared to 2016, when Iran was relieved of international sanctions after signing a major nuclear agreement with world powers.

Iran came under a series of new and unilateral sanctions by the United States in 2018 when the US government decided to pull out of the nuclear agreement.

That has caused a decline in Iran’s exports of oil which is a major source of earning foreign currency for the country. However, funds related to previous sales of crude are still held in banks outside Iran mainly because sanctions make transfers into Iran almost impossible.

In the meantime, the Iranian government has opted to use some of the funds held in foreign banks for purchase of certain goods and services.

Reports on Wednesday showed that CBI governor Abdolnasser Hemmati had travelled to Iraq to negotiate how Iran could use its massive funds in the Arab country for imports of basic goods.

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