The Government fully support expanding the UK’s trade relationship with Iran. The Treasury is actively liaising with UK banks and industry bodies, to understand concerns and help re-establish financial channels between the UK and Iran.
Despite the improving diplomatic relations between the British and Iranian Governments, UK businesses still face significant barriers to completing legitimate banking transactions for trade purposes. Will the Minister look at what more can be done to help to facilitate financial transactions between UK and Iranian banks, so that the UK economy can begin to benefit from this new market?
I thank my hon. Friend for her question. She is right that the situation with the payment channels between the UK and Iran is quite challenging, particularly because the US still has its primary sanctions in place. We have been speaking to banks at the highest levels. We have also been liaising with the US authorities to push for further clarity for UK banks. It is worth pointing out that some banks have a more extensive US business than others do, and that therefore it might be worth companies in my hon. Friend’s constituency and elsewhere considering switching to banks that have less exposure in the US.
Given the opportunities for British businesses in Iran as a result of the relaxation of sanctions, could the Treasury have a word with our friends the Americans to make sure that they do not seek to use their banking regulations to prevent some of the commercial deals that may flow to British companies as a result of that relaxation of sanctions?
My right hon. Friend is right to highlight one of the key issues. I assure him that we are working at all levels in discussions with the US authorities to ensure that British companies selling to Iran are able to put that money into UK bank accounts.