News ID: 235025
Published: 0226 GMT November 30, 2018

Putin endorses deal for Iran-EEU free trade zone

Putin endorses deal for Iran-EEU free trade zone

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin endorsed a much-awaited agreement for the establishment of a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) thus facilitating the process for the Islamic Republic to join the Moscow-led regional economic bloc.

According to a Kremlin announcement, the agreement became a federal law after Putin’s endorsement and was accordingly forwarded to the relevant institutions to be implemented, reported Press TV. 

The move had been approved earlier this month by Russia’s State Duma as well as the country’s Federal Assembly.

Apart from authorizing the creation of a free trade zone between Iran and the EU, the document would be meant to support their cooperation over a wide range of economic and commercial areas.

The EEU is comprised of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an international organization created with the aim of encouraging regional economic integration through the free movement of goods, services and people within the union.

The bloc was established in 2015, after it superseded the Eurasian Economic Community that functioned from 2000 to 2014. The union has an integrated single market of 183 million people and a gross domestic product of over $4 trillion.

The EEU’s prime ministers resolved in March to make talks with Tehran a priority, scenting an opportunity to expand beyond the bloc’s combined market of 183 million people.

Russia’s President Putin said in August that Moscow wanted Iran to join the EEU – a move that was seen as crucial in bringing the two countries closer in their plans to form a strategic partnership.

“Iran is Russia’s longtime partner. We believe that bilateral relations will benefit from the reduction of tensions around Iran following the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program,” Putin was quoted by the media as saying.

In September, the Kyrgyz envoy to Tehran underlining the need to further develop Iran-Kyrgyzstan trade relations said EEU is interested in developing trade exchanges with Iran.

Kyrgyzstan's Ambassador to Iran Avaz Beig Abdarazakov said that thanks to Iran's high capacities, the relations can be established in various fields.

Abdarazakov hoped that cultural, commercial and political relations between Iran and Kyrgyzstan will be promoted.

"We hail maintaining cooperation in food production, processing agricultural products, food canning industry and nectar production units," he added.

According to Rakhim Oshakbayev, the director of the Talap Center and a Kazakh political scientist who specializes in studying the EEU, the agreement between Iran and the EEU is a consequence of the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran deal.

"I think this is positive and it would mean that the foreign policy of the United States is not completely effective," he said.

Armenia also welcomed the free trade agreement between the EEU and Iran.

Armenia, the only EEU member state in the Caucasus, has been positioning itself as a trade partner to Iran via a free trade zone on its southern border.

Armenian Minister for Economic Development Artsvik Minasian said the deal would allow Armenia to serve as an important transit route between Iran and the wider EEU market.

"This is also an opportunity to manufacture some products in the Meghri free-trade zone," he told Azatutyun, Armenian news service.

Meghri, Armenia's border town with Iran, has become an important part of Armenia's economic strategy after a trade hub has opened there in December, 2017. The hub offers generous business terms for companies operating there.

"Companies operating in the Meghri will be exempt from profit tax, value added tax, excise tax and customs fees," the provincial governor's press secretary, Vazgen Sagatelyan, told Eurasianet recently.

"We expect the zone to attract 50 to 70 companies in the coming years, investing $100-130 million and creating more than 1,500 jobs."


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