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EghtesadOnline: Chazzabeh crossing on the Iran-Iraq border was reopened for exports on Sunday, after five months of closure due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Iranian commercial vehicles will be allowed to cross the Chazzabeh gateway into the neighboring country every day, except on public holidays, reported. 

Located in the southern Khuzestan Province, Chazzabeh is the last of seven official border crossings between Iran and Iraq that has been reopened.

On Thursday, Iraq also reopened its Manzarieh border crossing with Iran (called Khosravi on the Iranian side) after about five months since the spread of the new coronavirus.

According to Spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration Rouhollah Latifi, Iranian commodities can now be transported to Iraq through the border crossing that links Iran’s Kermanshah Province to Iraq’s Diyala Governorate, IRNA reported.

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

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. 

The crossing was being opened only for the trade of foodstuffs, allowing in some 500 trucks from Iran on Wednesdays and Sundays, an official 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 coronavirus.

The crossings of Mehran in Ilam Province and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan Province are also open to trade.

Mehran border terminal was reopened on June 9. Transshipment of Iranian products through this border crossing is allowed on Mondays and Wednesdays, reported. 

As for Iran's crossings into the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, namely Parvizkhan, Bashmaq and Tamarchin they have been open all along.

“As many as 250 trucks from Iran head for Iraq through northern border crossings (into the Iraqi Kurdistan) daily, mostly carrying food products and construction materials,” 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 added.



Iran's Q1 Exports to Iraq at $1.45b

A total 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 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 also 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. 

Iran exported more than 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 in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, 2020,” Latifi was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

“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.”

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 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 the Islamic Republic," former minister of industries, mining and trade, Reza Rahmani, had said.

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, which is 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 the 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 in the past few months since 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, Kadhimi held meetings with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.


Iran exports Iraq border crossings Chazzabeh coronavirus