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EghtesadOnline: An Iranian economic delegation is in Qatar to meet Qatari officials and businessmen and discuss ways of further developing bilateral economic relations.

According to the head of Bushehr Industry, Mines and Trade Organization, Hossein Hosseini Mohammadi, the Iranian delegation comprises private-sector entrepreneurs and state officials, Mehr News Agency reported.

Mohammadi added that the visit aims to bolster commercial ties with Qatar and resolve trade problems between the two countries.

"Increasing non-oil exports from the southern Iranian province of Bushehr to Qatar and clearing trade obstacles between Iran and Qatar top the agenda of the visit," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

The official noted that recent developments in the foreign relations of Qatar, including the imposition of economic sanctions by some Persian Gulf states against it, has given way to Iran for broadening bilateral political, economic and commercial relations.

"Over the past six months, more than 36,000 tons of goods worth $57 million have been exported from Bushehr to Qatar," he said.

Bushehr has abundant potential to export cement, clinker, fish products, date palms and other products to Qatar.

Mohammadi concluded that the visit is expected to boost exports from Bushehr to Qatar and create a boom in bilateral trade ties.

Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the UAE, Bahrain and Egyp,t severed ties with Qatar in early June 2017 over charges that Doha supports terrorism. The Qatari government has denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law. 

Saudi Arabia and its allies have accordingly imposed a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar, leaving only a sea and air corridor open with Iran.

This created a rise in Iranian exports, particularly fruits and vegetables, to Qatar over the past months. 

Iran has also become a corridor for exports of other countries to the blockaded Persian Gulf state, which also shares the world's largest natural gas field with Iran

> 60% Rise in H1 Exports

The Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration's latest data show Iran-Qatar non-oil trade stood at $145.92 million during the first half of the current fiscal year (March 21-Sept. 22), registering a 46.02% growth compared with the corresponding period of last year.

Iran’s exports stood at more than $139.41 million, showing a 60.63% rise year-on-year. Qatar ranked 19th among Iran’s major export destination during the period.

Iran mainly exported oil tar, fresh and frozen tomatoes and livestock to Qatar during the six-month period.

Qatar exported $5.88 million worth of commodities to Iran, down 53.75% YOY. Qatar was the 70th exporter of goods to Iran over the period.

Imports mainly included chemical catalysts, physical or chemical decomposition devices, viscosity, porosity and surface tension measurement devices, and secondhand mechanical shovels.

Qatar's Ambassador to Iran Ali bin Hamad Al-Sulaiti thanked Tehran for its assistance to Doha one year after diplomatic and economic sanctions were imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran pioneered aid and humanitarian assistance to the Qatari government and tried to reduce the negative impacts of the siege on Qatari citizens. It opened its airspace to Qatari planes and rapidly sent foodstuff to make up for the abrupt cut in export of goods by the four countries. It also provided a passage for transferring goods by many countries to the Qatari government,” Sulaiti wrote in a memo.

In a telephone conversation with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in August, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called for closer economic and political relations.

Highlighting Iran’s engineering capabilities, Rouhani said, “Iranian companies are willing to export technical and engineering services [to Qatar], particularly for partnership in carrying out construction projects in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” Tasnim News Agency reported.  

Calling for more efforts to facilitate the activities of Iranian and Qatari businesses, he proposed enhancing port and maritime cooperation by “establishing a joint shipping line”. There is no obstacle to stronger mutual cooperation,” Rouhani added.

Referring to the significant growth in maritime traffic between Iranian and Qatari ports, Hadi Haqshenas, the deputy head of Ports and Maritime Organization, recently said Turkey and other countries can easily transport their goods to Qatar via Bushehr.

According to the official, Qataris have called for improving maritime transport services between the southern port of Bushehr and Qatar’s Hamad Port.

Doha signed a transportation agreement with Turkey and Iran back in November to facilitate trilateral trade and increase exports to Qatar in the wake of the blockade.

In March, the International Monetary Fund said the effect of the blockade on economic activity in Qatar had been “transitory”, as new trade routes were quickly established and growth remained positive.

> Qatar Airways Commits to Iran Flights 

US sanctions on Iran will not impact Qatar Airways' flights to the Islamic republic, the airline's CEO Akbar al-Baker said on Monday.

Speaking at a high-profile business conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Baker said services to Iran would continue despite a tightening economic and political squeeze on Iran by Washington, AFP reported.

"Aviation is not a sanctioned industry. Qatar Airways will continue to operate into the cities we are currently operating in Iran," he said.

"Our flights to Iran will not be affected."

Qatar Airways' Iran destinations include Mashhad and Shiraz, while the airline operates daily flights to Tehran, according to its website.

Baker's comments come as US President Donald Trump's administration is expected to impose a second round of sanctions on Iran next month.

A first tranche of punitive measures were introduced in August by the US after it withdrew in May from the 2015 international deal aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Washington has also warned foreign businesses to steer clear of Iran.

Already, major European airlines, including Air France and British Airways, have stopped flights to Iran, following the sanctions' announcement.

> Iran’s Strong Presence at IPEC

Representatives of 44 companies from Iran’s private sector are attending the largest trade event of the year at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. 

According to Adnan Mousapour, chairman of Iran-Qatar Chamber of Commerce, the three-day event (October 8-10 ), billed as Qatar’s First International Products Exhibition and Conference, is a great opportunity to strengthen economic cooperation and bolster bilateral trade with the neighboring country as it offers Iranian firms a chance to take a bigger share of Qatar’s market, Mehr News Agency reported. 

The exhibition is attended by several business associations, private business owners, entrepreneurs and representatives from Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Iran.

The event highlights the most important investment opportunities in Qatar and explores ways of overcome the challenges of expanding investments in the region.

> Bushehr-Doha Marine Route to Be Reactivated

As port infrastructures are in place, a sea travel and tourist line between Iran's Bushehr and Qatar's Doha will be reactivated by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2019, the director general of Bushehr Province's Ports and Maritime Organization said.

Siavash Arjomandzadeh recently told IRNA that since sea travels in the Bushehr Province had been limited to the nearby Iranian Kharg Island in recent years, authorities are expanding the route and aiming to take passengers to ports in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in the near future.

"In the first step, outbound sea travels from Bushehr Port to Doha Port in Qatar will be restarted," the official said, adding that Qatari counterparts have visited the port in recent months and welcome the prospects.


economic ties Iran delegation Qatar