EghtesadOnline: Atotal of 5 million tons of non-oil goods worth $1.45 billion were exported from Iran to Iraq during the first quarter of the current Iranian year (March 20-June 20) to register a 40% and 38.3% decline in tonnage and value respectively compared with the similar period of last year, according to the secretary-general of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce.
“The decline was due to the coronavirus outbreak, which prompted the Iraqi government to set restrictions on trade and shut down the neighboring country's border crossings,” Hamid Hosseini was quoted as saying by IRNA.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran's Customs Administration, Iran's overall non-oil exports stood at 21.92 million tons worth $6.36 billion in spring.
This means Iraq accounted for about 22.8% of Iran's overall exports in Q1.
The official noted that following negotiations between Iranian authorities and their Iraqi counterparts, the neighboring country has reopened several border crossings with Iran to allow limited trade flow.
Iraq partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on July 7 after more than three months of closure to combat the viral outbreak, border officials said.
The crossing was being opened only for food trade, allowing in about 500 trucks from Iran on Wednesday and Sunday, one of the officials said.
Iraq closed its international borders and provincial boundaries in March, except for the delivery of essential goods such as food as it sought to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
As for Iran's other crossings to Iraq, Rouhollah Latifi, spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, recently said prior to the reopening of Shalamcheh that “two of the crossings with the central government of Iraq, namely Mehran in Ilam Province and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan Province, are currently open to trade and the rest are closed. Meanwhile, all border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region are open”.
“As many as 250 trucks from Iran head for Iraq through northern border crossings (into Iraqi Kurdistan) daily, mostly carrying food products and construction materials; southern borders with the neighboring country have yet to reopen completely,” Yahya Al-e Es’haq, the chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, said recently.
Health safety protocols have been designed and implemented at the southern borders with Iraq, he added.
Noting that the two borders of Chazzabeh and Shalamcheh are planned to be reopened soon, the official said, adding that Mehran border terminal was reopened on June 9.
Transshipment of Iranian products through this very significant border crossing is allowed on Mondays and Wednesdays, Otaghiranonline.ir reported.
Iraq is the main destination of Iranian exports among neighboring countries.
Iran exported 25.68 million tons of goods worth $8.99 billion to Iraq in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20).
About 8.1 million tons of goods worth $3.8 billion were exported from Iran to Iraq through the Iraqi Kurdistan Region during the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020, according to the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“The exports account for 42% of Iran’s total exports to Iraq in terms of value and for over 31% in terms of tonnage during the period under review,” Latifi was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Parvizkhan border crossing had a share of more than 3 million tons worth $1.4 billion, followed by Bashmaq with $1.12 billion and Tamarchin border crossing with $754 million.
Iran was the biggest exporter to Iraq in the fiscal 2018-19.
"This is the first time Iran tops the list of exporters to neighboring Iraq … We need to keep this status using our full potential as our rivals Turkey and China trail closely behind," former industries minister, Reza Rahmani, said at the time.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran's Customs Administration, Iran exported $8.9 billion worth of non-oil goods to Iraq during the fiscal 2018-19—37% more compared to the year before.
Iraq was the second biggest export destination for Iranian non-oil products after China with $9.3 billion that year.