Update on Iran's Border Crossings Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
EghtesadOnline: Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Rouhollah Latifi has given the latest account of Iran's commercial exchanges through border crossings with neighboring countries, as the outbreak of the new coronavirus restricted the flow of goods through land borders.
“Pishin border crossing, a gateway to neighboring Pakistan, reopened on May 2,” he said.
The border crossing, which is located in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, is now open for trading food products every other day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.
A maximum of 20 trucks and 40-50 pickup and mini trucks are allowed to pass through.
The IRICA spokesman said Rimdan border crossing, also on the Iran-Pakistan frontier in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, reopened on April 25 but Mirjaveh border is still closed.
Pakistan first closed its eastern and western borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India on March 15 to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Iranian border crossings of Milak, Mahiroud and Dogharoun linking Afghanistan are open for trade.
The head of Iran-Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce said last month that visa issuance for Afghan traders and truck drivers to enter Iran, which had faced a hiatus after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, is not back to normal.
“Afghan traders can obtain business visa, provided they travel to Iran via plane and carry documented proof that they are not infected with COVID-19,” Mohammad Mehdi Javanmard-Qassab was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency, adding that truck drivers will only need to submit proof of their being virus-free.
With regard to borders with Turkmenistan, Latifi said all borders remain closed.
As for Uzbekistan, Iranian trucks are now allowed to cross for transit, exports and imports, and the Uzbek government has removed all restrictions.
Uzbekistan lifted the limitations it had placed on Iranian transit trucks in its territory since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“Trucks can stay in Uzbekistan for up to 10 days,” Latifi was quoted as saying by IRNA, adding that the transit fleet has been required to follow health protocols meticulously.
Uzbekistan’s crisis management commission has lifted the ban for Afghan and Italian transit fleet as well.
Trade with northern neighbors is underway through Caspian Sea ports, namely Anzali, Astara, Caspian, Noshahr, Fereydounkenar and Amirabad.
Marine routes to Russia and Azerbaijan are open. Rail routes to Azerbaijan are also operating.
Iranian trucks are travelling through the transit route to Russia.
Iran-Armenia trade is also underway via Nurduz border in East Azerbaijan Province.
Transactions With Turkey
Commercial exchanges with Turkey are carried out via Razi railroad but Bazargan border is still closed.
Notably, even Turkish trucks are not allowed to return to their country and 360 Turkish trucks have been stranded at the border since April 10, pending Ankara’s decision to return home.
Latifi noted that the border crossing of Sari Su with Turkey is the only crossing used for importing health, medicinal and pharmaceutical products, and no other trade activity is done through the border.
A total of 18,000 tons of goods worth more than $41 million were exported from the Razi border crossing in West Azarbaijan’s Khoy County via 813 cargo wagons during the first months of the current Iranian year (March 20-April 19), showing a sevenfold and 20-fold rise in tonnage and value respectively compared with the similar period of last year.
“Razi is the only border crossing between Iran and Turkey that has not been closed down due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. All health protocols are being meticulously followed and a disinfection station has been set up at the border so trade between the two sides can continue without a problem,” Superintendent of Razi Rail Customs Administration Seifollah Rasi was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The main exported items were polyethylene, urea, copper ingots and watermelons.
“Some 30,000 tons of goods worth around $40 million were transited through Razi border via 1,400 freight wagons over the same period, registering a 2.5-fold increase in weight year-on-year.”
Rasi added that since the virus outbreak two months ago, the border crossing has been working round the clock.
Trade With Other Neighboring States
Referring to trade with Iraq, Iran's biggest export destination among neighboring states, Latifi noted that trade with this country is underway via the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, namely the borders of Tamarchin, Parvizkhan and Bashmaq.
The border crossings of Siran Band and Sardasht-Kileh opened last week.
All borders with Iraq are still closed, he added.
The border crossings of Shalamcheh, Chazzabeh, Mehran and Khosravi remain closed for commercial exchanges.
The border checkpoints of Parvizkhan and Bashmaq have banned trucks from crossing it until further notice due to the long lines of vehicles waiting there to cross into the Iraqi Kurdistan, according to Mohsen Yazarlou, a local official in Golestan Province.
"Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar allow the import of metallic and refrigerated watercrafts, but refuse the shipment of wooden and traditional watercrafts," Latifi said.
There are three marine routes to Oman that mostly trade food and vegetables, he added.
A new direct marine shipping line between Sultan Qaboos Port in Muscat and Bandar Abbas Port in Iran was launched last month.
Oman’s Port Operation & Management Company (Marafi) said in a post on its Twitter account that the new line comes “in response to the market requirements of vegetables, fruits and foodstuff”.
Marafi invited merchants to benefit from this service to meet local demand on the heels of the country’s partial shutdown imposed by the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Gholamreza Ansari, all borders of Iran, except the one with Turkmenistan, are open, adding that the country's foreign missions are negotiating with host countries to resume trade exchanges.
"Turkmenistan has closed its borders to all countries, both neighbors and non-neighbors, due to the coronavirus outbreak. They have closed almost all borders to protect themselves from losses inflicted by the virus," he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency last week.
“Fortunately, along other borders of Iran, including the eastern, western, northern and southern borders, the movement of goods is continuing.”