COTABATO CITY – The Islamic Republic of Iran is eyeing the possibility of trading its crude oil with bananas and other fruits from the cash-strapped Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, ARMM officials announced over the weekend.
The trade prospect was aired personally by Ambassador to the Philippines Ali Mojtaba Rouzbehani in his courtesy call to acting Regional Governor Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong Tuesday at the ARMM-Manila liaison office last week where he also assured assistance on the region’s in education and medical needs, lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo said.
Sinarimbo, incumbent ARMM executive secretary, said the Iranian envoy was empathic about trading some of his country’s oil supplies with bananas and other fruits from the ARMM areas in the face of the embargo imposed by the U.S. on the petroleum products of Iran.
In response to the “laudable” proposal, he said, acting Regional Governor Adiong has ordered his concerned officials to coordinate with fruit growers and producers in ARMM for the possible drafting of a feasibility study on the trading scheme.
If realized, the barter trade will tap the freshly-opened Free Port of Polloc in Parang, Maguindanao, the ARMM official said.
Banana growers and producers in the ARMM have been exporting part of their produce to Muslim countries including Iran, according to Sinarimbo.
In his courtesy call, he said, Ambassador Rouzbehani also “promised to help ARMM in areas of education and cheaper medicines.
The Philippines, he said, has been absorbing large volume of cheaper medicines from Indian, which imports Iranian medicines.
“We believe the cost will be much cheaper if we import medicines directly from Iran,” the ARMM executive secretary told newsmen here Sunday.
Sinarimbo expressed elation that Iran has joined the ranks of foreign states and entities that have shown growing confidence in the present ARMM administration.
The World Bank, the Japanese International Coordination Agency, the European Commission, the Australian Agency for International Development, the United Nations attached institutions, and the World Food Programme, among others, have renewed services in ARMM this year in gesture of trust in the ARMM leadership, officials said. (Ali G. Macabalang/ BPI ARMM)