iran 30 July 2020

Swiss say humanitarian trade channel to Iran is up and running

Switzerland has announced that a humanitarian aid channel, set up with US approval to allow Swiss-based companies to send medicines and other vital goods to Iran, has become operational, after a delay of several months following a pilot deal in January. The Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (‘SHTA’) is designed to bring food and medicines to Iran.

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (‘SECO’) told Reuters on Monday that an unidentified Swiss pharmaceutical company had completed the first transaction through the SHTA.

‘We would like to emphasise that the operationalisation of the SHTA is progressing and that a number of companies have already been approved, more companies will follow. Further transactions should be carried out shortly,’ SECO told the news agency.

SECO did not identify the Swiss pharma or give a value for the shipment, which, it said, involved a cancer drug used to treat iron overload caused by repeated blood transfusions.

Geneva-based bank BOP and pharma Novartis took part in the pilot deal in January, which shipped cancer drugs and medicines required for organ transplants worth 2.3 million euros. That was before Iran became one of the epicentres of the Coronavirus in March, with officials blaming US sanctions for shortages of medicines and equipment to deal with the pandemic.