EghtesadOnline: Iran announced reopening the two border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region on Tuesday.
"Tamarchin (also known as Haj Omran) between Iran's West Azarbaijan Province and the Iraqi Kurdistan's Erbil, and Parvizkhan between Iran's Kermanshah Province and the Iraqi Kurdistan's Sulaymaniyah have reopened as of today," IRNA quoted Shahriyar Heydari, director general of the Iranian Interior Ministry's Border Affairs Department, as saying on Tuesday.
The two crossings had been closed at the request of the Iraqi federal government since the Sept. 25 referendum on independence in the Kurdish region.
"The Interior Ministry has issued the relevant directives for the reopening. Traders and truck traffic are expected to go back to normal by this evening or tomorrow morning," Financial Tribune quoted Heydari as saying.
An official with the customs office in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region on Tuesday confirmed that Iranian authorities had reopened the border crossing of Parvizkhan.
Also, officials at the Iranian Consulate in Erbil confirmed that the Tamarchin and Parvizkhan border crossings had reopened.
Ali Tawfiq, the director of Parvizkhan border crossing on the Iraqi Kurdistan's side, told Kurdish media that the Iranian authorities had officially opened the crossing early Tuesday and that “cargo vehicles and buses are now waiting to cross in both directions”.
However, the director of the Kurdish side of Haj Omran crossing said the border gate located in Erbil Province remained closed as of Tuesday despite the announcement.
“There has been no decision regarding the Haj Omran crossing,” Masoud Bateli added. “Nothing official has yet come.”
There are three official border crossings between the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Iran: Bashmaq, Parvizkhan and Tamarchin. Iran sealed off all three of them in response to the referendum at the request of Baghdad. Baghdad dismissed the vote as illegal. Iran and Turkey, which have Kurdish communities of their own, also opposed the poll.
Bashmaq was reopened on October 25 the same day as the Kurdistan Regional Government offered to freeze the results of the Sept. 25 vote as a step toward resolving its disputes with Baghdad through dialogue.
Iran’s Kurdish lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said last week that the closure of the country’s border with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region had inflicted losses worth $2.5 billion.
Some experts said Iran was losing out as a result of the punitive measure since Turkey, which has left its borders open, quickly replaced Iranian products in Kurdistan.
Two months after the decision, Falahatpisheh 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.
According to the head of Kermanshah Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Keyvan Kashefi, the closure led to the loss of some 3,000 local jobs.
“Exports and transit through this frontier crossing amount to approximately $3 billion per year and its closure will have a negative effect on the country’s overall exports,” he said.
More than 54% of Iran’s exports to Iraq are conducted through Parvizkhan border crossing.
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.
Iraqi Kurdistan is a landlocked region heavily dependent on its neighbors.