“The current trade volume between Iran and Iraq is $13 billion and, by the will of two countries, it will rise to $20 billion in the future,” he said, Fars News Agency reported.
“Iran has a good opportunity to develop trade with Iraq and the two nations are keen to boost cultural cooperation,” he added during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Reza Rahmani in Tehran.
The official noted that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is to visit Baghdad to discuss the development of trade ties between Iran and Iraq.
Pointing to a recent meeting with Iraqi officials, Rahmani indicated that there were negotiations to improve strategic relations between the two countries and increase trade.
On February 6, governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement on a payment mechanism which is to facilitate the settlement of Baghdad’s debts to Tehran.
The deal, signed in Baghdad by Iran’s Abdolnasser Hemati and Iraq’s Ali Mohsen al-Allaq, mainly focuses on a payment channel that is to facilitate the settlement of the Arab country’s debts to Tehran over gas and electricity imports, among others.
The two sides inked the agreement following negotiations between members of their delegations.
On the sidelines of his visit, Hemati told IRNA that his trip was aimed at removing the obstacles that hinder the settlement of Iraq’s debts to Iranian exporters.
“Currently, we’re witnessing a considerable volume of exports [from Iran to Iraq] in both the public and private sectors, but there are shortcomings in banking and monetary exchanges, which have created problems for [Iranian] exporters,” he said.
In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances and air conditioners.
The value of Iranian exports to Iraq was about $6 billion for the 12 months ending March 2018, about 15 percent of Iraq’s total imports for 2017.
The energy contracts between the two countries also contributed to a volume of trade of $12 billion last year.
Iran is currently Iraq’s top trade partner, having sharply increased their trade exchanges in recent months despite US sanctions on Iran.
The US government in November 2018, reimposed unilateral sanctions against Iran and urged all countries in the world to stop doing business with Iran.