According to Marco Feriolli, head of the SACE desk for the Middle East and North Africa region, the total value of SACE coverage for Iran used to be €4.5 billion which was reduced to €1 billion after sanctions were tightened in 2012. “[But] now that amount has reached €2.5 billion since the two countries signed an agreement during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Italy in January,” IRNA quoted him as saying in a meeting at the Iran Chamber of Commerce Industries Mining and Agriculture on Thursday. Earlier in January in the presence of Rouhani, and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, SACE and the Central Bank of Iran signed a settlement agreement for the recovery of sovereign credit due to SACE by Iranian counterparties. The agreement provided for the payment to SACE of €564 million in three installments by October 2016. The credit represented claims paid by SACE to Italian companies for loans unpaid by Iranian counterparties after the payment systems were suspended by the international restrictions. Following the agreement, SACE said in April that it would guarantee credit worth €4 billion which Italian state-run lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti would offer to companies building oil-and-gas and transport infrastructure in Iran. The agreement has enabled the insurance-financial company of the CDP Group, to be the first export credit company to re-launch underwriting activities in support of exports to and investments in Iran. Feriolli told ILNA on the sidelines of the meeting that SACE and Iran’s Economy Ministry have reached agreements over investing in oil and gas projects as well as construction of hospitals. “We have expanded our cooperation with Bank Melli Iran and Tejarat Bank,” he said. Oil, gas and petrochemical industries account for the largest portion of the coverage,” he added. The Italian insurer is not fully familiar with Iran’s priorities, he concurred. “We need to know which sectors and projects are of high importance for Iran.” The agency had also signed three collaboration agreements with Iranian banks, namely Pasargad, Parsian and Saman, to facilitate a more rapid resumption of trade and investments from Italy. According to a SACE statement in April, the first transactions financed through the SACE guarantee, regarding supplies by Italian SMEs to Iranian SMEs, have come into effect. Mauro Conciatori, Italy’s ambassador in Tehran noted that his country is committed to expanding ties with Iran saying that politics, economy and culture are three channels for developing closer ties. “Trade, investment, infrastructure and strategic issues offer ample of opportunities for the two countries to expand cooperation,” he said. The envoy added that the two countries need to reach a clear understanding of each other side’s priorities.