India did not act under pressure on transactions with Iran:MEA

"We have seen reports regarding problems with respect to settlement of current account transactions with Iran under the Asian Clearing Union mechanism.

"This is a technical issue and the Reserve Bank of India is seized of the matter. Efforts are being made to resolve the issue as soon as possible. There is no question of India acting under pressure of any country," the External Affairs Ministry said.

The RBI had on December 23 said companies will be allowed to settle current account and trade transactions with Iran outside ACU, a regional payment arrangement.

This dismantled a mechanism used to complete payments for oil. Participants in the ACU settle transactions in either US dollar or euro.

Iran has refused to sell oil under the new rules. Reports had said that the RBI move was influenced by the US as till 2008, payments under the ACU mechanism was done in US dollars but after Washington imposed sanctions against Iran over its suspected nuclear programme, the currency shifted to Euro.

United Nations sanctions do not forbid buying Iranian oil and recently the European Central Bank (ECB) asked RBI to provide certificates that the Euro being used to import products are not on US sanctions list.

ACU, based in the Iranian capital Tehran, settles trade transactions from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

In absence of a mutually acceptable payment mechanism, India may not be able to import 10 million barrels of crude oil contracted from Iran next month.

India imported 21.3 million tons of crude oil from Iran in 2009-10 and this year imports are expected to be around 18 million tons as Reliance Industries has totally stopped using crude oil from the Persian Gulf nation.


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