EghtesadOnline: After a short uplift following the reopening of border crossings, transit between Iran and Georgia has been suspended again, this time for unknown reasons.
At the outset of the new coronavirus outbreak, almost all neighboring countries, including Georgia, closed their land border crossings with Iran. After two months, they’ve gradually ended coronavirus-related border restrictions. However, officials with Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture say Georgia has not allowed Iranian trucks and freight trains toenter its borders since May 28.
“Wagonloads of Iranian goods have entered Azerbaijan Republic via Astara and were scheduled to be transferred to Georgia. On May 27, Azeri officials refused entry to Iranian cargos,” Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, was quoted as saying by the Persian-language daily Shahrvand.
Reasons behind this refusal have yet to be announced but some blame it on disagreements between Baku and Tbilisi about the mode of transportation, he added.
Fatemeh Moqimi, the chairwoman of Iran-Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said despite inquiries made from the Foreign Ministry, the joint chamber has not received a clear reason in this regard.
Without prior notice, Georgia has stopped both trucks and freight trains heading from Iran via Red Bridge, the crossing point between Georgia and Azerbaijan on the Tbilisi-Ganja Road.
Seyyed Ali Hosseini, a senior ICCIMA member, said, “The Transportation Commission of the chamber is looking into the matter and it seems that such measures have been taken on the grounds of Covid-19 health protocols. These speculations can’t be confirmed at this point, because it is only Iranian trucks and trains that have been subject to the new round of restrictions.”
Ali Shariati, another member of ICCIMA, said lobbying between Ankara and Tbilisi might have led to such an arrangement.
“Turkey is willing to limit Iran’s access to the European markets. It took the most advantage of the situation following the spread of coronavirus. At first, Georgia banned Iranian imports via rail and then it expanded the ban to Iranian trucks,” he said.
Last week, Behnam Faramarzian, the caretaker of International Transportation Department of ICCIMA, talked of Turkey and Georgia stonewalling Iran’s exports.
“We are now forced to take routes in the Republic of Dagestan to export Iranian goods to Europe. None of the countries, except Turkey and Georgia, had placed restrictions based on the nationality of exporters. But these two countries placed a total ban on the entry of Iranian drivers following the outbreak of coronavirus; they have not lifted the ban up until now,” Faramarzian said.