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EghtesadOnline: Iraq has reopened its Manzarieh border crossing with Iran (called Khosravi on the Iranian side) after it was closed for about five months, following the spread of the new coronavirus.

"Following negotiations between Iranian authorities and their Iraqi counterparts, the neighboring country reopened Manzarieh crossing on Thursday," Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Rouhollah Latifi was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Iranian commodities can now be transported to Iraq through the border crossing, which links Iran’s Kermanshah Province to Iraq’s Diyala Governorate, he added.

Latifi noted that no restrictions have been placed on the gateway’s commercial exchanges.



Iran's Q1 Exports to Iraq at $1.45b

A total of 5 million tons of non-oil goods worth more than $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 outbreak of the novel coronavirus, 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. 

Iraq partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on July 7 after more than three months of closure to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, border officials said.

The crossing was being opened only for the trade of food products, allowing in 500 trucks from Iran per week and would open every Wednesday and Sunday from now on, 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. 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 the Iraqi Kurdistan) on a daily basis, 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 for the southern borders with Iraq, he said. 

Mehran border terminal reopened on June 9. 

Transshipment of Iranian products through this very significant border crossing is allowed on Mondays and Wednesdays, reported. 

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, 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 minister of industries, mining and trade, 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.



$20b Trade Target

According to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the governments of Iran and Iraq have decided to raise the value of annual trade exchange to $20 billion.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraq's visiting prime minister in Tehran on Tuesday, President Rouhani said Iranian and Iraqi governments have decided to raise the value of bilateral trade exchanges to $20 billion, Iraq Business News reported.

He also noted that trade relations between the two neighbors have improved during the few months after Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has taken office.

Heading a ranking political and economic delegation, Kadhimi arrived in Tehran on Tuesday before travelling to the US. In his two-day visit, the Iraqi premier held meetings with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Following the meeting, the two sides announced that they have agreed to "revitalize current agreements between our two countries, including the agreement to establish a rail link between Iran and the Iraqi city of Basra".

Deputy minister of roads and urban development, Kheirollah Khademi, said last year that following the signing of an agreement between Iran and Iraq, the contractor and investor of the 32-kilometer Shalamcheh-Basra railroad have been designated.

He noted that the go-ahead for the construction of the $150-million rail project was only waiting for the Iraqi side to carry out its part of commitments, adding that the Mostazafan Foundation, with years of experience in construction activities, will be responsible for funding and executing the entire project in Iran and Iraq.

The foundation accounts for 1.5% of Iran’s gross domestic product, according to the head of the foundation, Mohammad Saeedikia.

Mostazafan Foundation (a foundation for the oppressed and disabled established in 1979 as per a decree by the late Imam Khomeini) is the largest charity and the second-largest conglomerate in Iran.

The launch of the 32-kilometer railroad boosts Iran's exports to Iraq and from this route to West Asian and North African countries.


Iran Iraq border coronavirus Manzarieh Khosravi