News ID: 238182
Published: 0418 GMT January 30, 2019

Iranian MP: Border exports to Iraq can reach $20b

Iranian MP: Border exports to Iraq can reach $20b

Sadeq Dehqan & Farzam Vanaki

Iran's border exports to Iraq can increase to $20 billion within eight months, said an Iranian lawmaker.

It is possible to triple exports of goods from Iran to Iraq through the former's common borders with Iraqi Kurdistan region, Rasoul Khezri, a lawmaker representing Piranshahr in the northwestern Iranian province of West Azarbaijan told Iran Daily.

He said Iran's exports to Iraq currently stands at $6.5 billion, describing it as a very insignificant figure given the two sides' trade capacities and potentials.

Commenting on his January visit to Iraqi Kurdistan region as a member of a delegation headed by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Khezri said during the trip, the entourage traveled to Baghdad, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah.

He said officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, in particular, are highly interested in trade and economic cooperation with Iran.

The Iranian lawmaker noted that the representatives of a number of major international banks operating in Iraqi Kurdistan region as well as the region's officials are keen on using the capacities in this area to collaborate with Iran.

Describing as remarkable the capacities of Iranian borders for expanding trade with neighboring states, he said, "We can easily offset the impact of 70 percent-80 percent of unilateral economic US sanctions through our common borders and by setting up joint border markets and establishing industrial and trade parks."

On May 8, 2018, US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — signed between Iran and P5+1 in July 2015 — and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on Tehran in two phases, both already in place.

Like free zones, though on a much smaller scale, border markets and joint trade parks have many economic functions and roles, Khezri added.

"Instead of allocating, for instance, 100,000 hectares of our land to establishing free zones, we can establish joint trade and industrial parks in 20,000 hectares-50,000 hectares and expand joint production and trade."

He said the most important border routes for trade between Iran and the Iraqi Kurdistan region are those crossing Piranshahr's Tamarchin border, which is the country's most important border area for expanding trade relations with Erbil, and Kileh in Sardasht, which is Iran's main route for trade with Sulaymaniyah.

"Once effective plans are drawn up, Iran will be able to significantly increase exports to Iraq within a few months through the districts on common borders with Iraqi Kurdistan region."

Turning to measures taken by Europe to preserve the JCPOA, he said although Iran has been committed to the terms and contents of the international agreement, the US pulled out of the deal putting European states in a very special position.

They, Khezri added, have proposed to activate a mechanism called the special purpose vehicle (SPV) through which, they can facilitate part of Iran's economic and trade transactions with themselves and other countries.

"At present, most of the world's major companies each has some sort of relations, though at different levels, with the US. The US is one of the world's major economic powers. The dollar is the currency used in more than 60 percent of the global trade. All these make it difficult for European companies to cooperate with Iran."

Germany, France and the UK have raised the issue of activating the SPV more seriously in the EU, he said, adding, "We shall wait and see to what extent this mechanism would be able to meet Iran's expectations."

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