0514 GMT July 18, 2019
A recent memorandum of understanding to streamline transport between Iran and Greece will turn the European country into a hub for export of Iranian products to the continent, an official said.
Head of Iran-Greece Joint Chamber of Commerce Majid Movafeq Qadiri told Iran Daily, "Based on the MoU, Greece will become a hub for Iran transit and exports to the European Union thus playing a key role for increasing Iran-EU trade."
Iranian and Greek officials signed the 18-paragraph agreement in Tehran in May to facilitate the transfer of goods between the two countries.
The agreement envisages a corridor, called the 'Persian Gulf-Black Sea', that would see Iranian goods being transited from the Persian Gulf to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bulgaria and then Greece and onward to Europe, Qadiri said.
He pointed to the ongoing Iran-EU talks to find a special payments mechanism to maintain trade, adding that an agreement would increase commercial ties between Iran and Greece as the country is a member of the European Union and must abide by its laws and regulations.
France, Germany and Britain — the European signatories to world powers' nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 — have scrambled to come up with measures to preserve economic benefits for Tehran after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in May and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
Iran and EU are negotiating a financial mechanism for to keep trading between the two sides.
The mechanism, known as Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), would act as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports to purchase EU goods, circumventing US sanctions which are based on the global use of the dollar for oil trading.
Oil, non-oil trade
Iran's oil exports to Greece reached almost $7 billion last year, Qadiri said, adding that Iran also exported motor vehicle oil valued at $838 million to the European country in the year which ended on March 20.
In November, Greece was among the eight countries that received US waivers to buy Iranian oil.
Pointing to the non-oil trade between the two sides, Qadiri said Iran exported goods worth more than $35 million to Greece while its imports reached $21 million last year.
"The numbers show that Iran's exports to Greece has increased by 32 percent comparing to a year ago, while imports have gone up 25 percent."
The head of Iran-Greece Joint Chamber of Commerce said Iran's exports to Greece has witnessed a sixfold increase compared to what it was four years ago.
He further said Iran was able to turn a $10-million trade deficit with Greece three years ago to a $14-million trade surplus last year.
Qadiri said Iran's exports to Greece stood at 23,000 tons last year — a sharp increase compared to 4,000 tons exported five years ago.
"On average, Iranian goods exported to Greece was worth $1,508 per ton last year," he added.
Iran's main export items to Greece last year were plastic products ($14.4 million), dried fruits ($9 million), polyesters ($7 million), floor coverings ($4.9 million), polyethylene products ($1.5 million), Qadiri said.
The official added that Greece mainly exported polymer, medical and dentistry equipment, casting products, home appliances, paper and iron wire to Iran.
Qadiri said Iran and Greece can also expand ties in tourism, shipping and food industry.