EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Kurdish lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said closing the country’s border with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region has incurred losses worth $2.5 billion.
After the Kurdistan Region received an overwhelming “yes” vote in a September referendum, Iran closed its borders, at the Iraqi government’s request, in protest at the region demanding independence from Iraq, Kurdistan 24 reported.
Baghdad dismissed the vote as illegal. Iran and Turkey, which have Kurdish communities of their own, were also against the poll.
However, some experts say Iran is losing out as a result of the punitive measure since Turkey, who left its borders open, quickly replaced Iranian products in Kurdistan, according to Financial Tribune.
Two months after the decision, Falahatpisheh, who represents the cities of Dalahou and Shahabad in the province of Kermanshah, said the border closure had “cost Iran too much”.
The Kurdish region of Iran has significantly high rates of unemployment. The border closure led to loss of job for many locals who usually earn a living by trading goods between the two crossings.
Keyvan Kashefi, the head of Kermanshah Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, has called on related officials to take measures and reopen the closed border crossings at the earliest, as the closures have led to the loss of some 3,000 jobs.
“Exports and transit through this frontier crossing amount to $3 billion per year and its closure will have a negative effect on the country’s overall exports,” he said.
Last week, a local official in the Iraqi Kurdistan’s Haj Omran District stated that no official decision has been taken to reopen Haj Omran border checkpoint, although Iranian authorities had previously declared that the gate would be reopened soon.
Farznk Ahmed Lawka, mayor of Haj Omran District, refuted claims about reopening the border crossing between Kurdistan Region and Iran.
“There is no official statement or decision to reopen the gate,” he was quoted as saying by Kurdish news agency BasNews.
His comments came after Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli confirmed earlier this month that Iran would soon reopen the gates of Haj Omran and Parvizkhan gates with the Kurdistan Region.
Iran’s Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri also said on October 30 that Iran would reopen all its border crossings with Iraq’s Kurdistan Region in the coming days.
On October 25, Iran reopened Bashmaq border crossing with the Kurdistan Region. The decision came on the same day when Kurdistan Regional Government offered to freeze the results of the referendum as a step toward resolving its disputes with Baghdad through dialogue rather than military means.
The Bashmaq border crossing is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of the city of Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan.
The two border crossings of Parvizkhan and Haj Omran, however, remain closed.
More than 54% of Iran’s exports to Iraq are carried out through Parvizkhan border crossing.
Iraqi Kurdistan is a landlocked region heavily dependent on its neighbors. Iran exported commodities worth more than $3 billion to Iraq during the six months to Sept. 22, with less than one-third of the exports going to the northern Kurdish region.