Jakarta: Indonesia would study any approach by Iran to trade by barter but has not received any such overtures from the country, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said on Friday.
Western financial sanctions have hurt Iran`s ability to pay for imported food and barter might provide one way for the country to gain access to supplies. It could try to turn to countries that have large Muslim populations and resources, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, for its needs.
"We have not got barter trade proposal from the Iranian government so far. If they really want to have barter trade with Indonesia and ask us to do so, then we have to study it first before doing the barter," Wirjawan told reporters, adding that if any barter trade was discussed gas would be preferable to oil.
Indonesia has done barter type trades before at a government level. In 2003-2004, Indonesia swapped palm oil and rubber for fighter planes from Russia, and it has also exchanged civilian planes for rice from Thailand.
Iran has not approached Malaysia for barter deals to keep its palm oil supplies flowing, two Malaysian government sources said on Friday, after traders said the country has stopped shipping the vegetable oil to Iran this year.
One said Malaysia is no longer keen to do barter trades after facing problems in a deal with North Korea in 2009 when USD 20 million worth of palm oil was to be exchanged for cash and fertilizer components.
"No matter how you do it, these countries don`t have enough to barter. So Malaysia is not going to do barter trades for the time being," said the source, who had direct knowledge of the matter.
"We are more concerned if there are declines in exports in our top markets like India and China rather than Iran," the source added, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.