Tehran, Iran, Aug. 20
By Temkin Jafarov, Anvar Mammadov - Trend:
Iran and Azerbaijan discuss creation of a joint bank and the opening of branches of the two countries' banks in Baku and Tehran, Mahmoud Vaezi, minister of communications and information technology of Iran, co-chairman of the intergovernmental commission, said in an exclusive interview with Trend August 20.
He said the branches of the new bank will operate in both Azerbaijan and Iran.
Vaezi went on to add that several private banks of Iran are interested in entering the banking market of Azerbaijan.
The two countries have limitations in the banking sector now, therefore, cooperation between banks isn't at an appropriate level yet, Vaezi said.
"There is a branch of Bank Melli Iran in Azerbaijan, but it is not active," the minister said, adding that preliminary talks on these issues were already held, and it is expected that they will be resolved during the visit of the head of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan Elman Rustamov to Iran.
Vaezi didn't mention the exact date of the visit.
He also touched upon the topic of Iranian money blocked in the accounts of Azerbaijani banks, which amounts to about $200 million.
"The representatives of the banking sector of Azerbaijan and Iran are discussing the use of this capital," he said. "A part of these funds is planned to be directed to the oil sector, and this was discussed during my last visit to Baku. Another part of the funds was directed to increase the capital of Bank Melli Iran."
Vaezi said that the expansion of cooperation in the banking sector is necessary for the further development of trade relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.
"Currently, the trade turnover between our countries is about $500 million," the minister said. "I think that it's not a very good indicator for the two neighboring countries and peoples so close to each other. Azerbaijan and Iran have set a goal to increase this figure four times, up to $2 billion."
Baku branch of Bank Melli Iran was opened in 1993.
Today, there are 43 banks operating in Azerbaijan and 28 banks in Iran.
Edited by CN