EghtesadOnline: Sarakhs Transit Bridge on the border of Iran-Turkmenistan has opened temporarily for vehicular movement for three days as of Monday.
As per an agreement reached by the authorities of the two neighboring countries, 10 Iranian trucks are allowed to cross Turkmenistan border each day from Monday to Wednesday, and deliver their freight to Turkmen trucks, Mohammad Mehdi Rezaie, the director of Sarakhs Border Terminal, was quoted as saying by IRNA on Monday.
“Turkmen trucks will carry the freight to the final destination and return the empty trailer to Iranian drivers at Sarakhs. The operation is possible for Turkmen trucks seeking to enter Iran,” he said.
“However, no trucks have crossed the border and Sarakhs Transit Bridge since its opening at 07:30 a.m. on Monday. Trucks in Iran are owned by real entities and they are reluctant to deliver their freight or vehicle to another driver.”
Mohammad Ali Amir-Fakhrian, the head of Foreign Trade Department of Khorasan Razavi Industries, Mining and Trade Organization, said on Saturday the closure of Iran-Turkmenistan borders and strict conditions set by Turkmen officials for Iranian exporters following the outbreak of the new coronavirus have decreased Khorasan Razavi Province's exports by 36% in weight and 20% in value over the five months to July 21.
“A total of 966,000 tons of goods worth $519 million were exported from the northeastern Iranian province during the period under review,” he said.
Exports from Bajgiran and Lotfabad customs terminals were also down 100% year-on-year due to border closures.
Amir-Fakhrian said Sarakhs rail border also saw a 38% decline in exports to Turkmenistan compared with last year’s similar period.
Three months ago, Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami and his Turkmen counterpart Gandymov Rahim Nurgeldiyevich jointly inaugurated the Sarakhs Transit Bridge.
The construction of this 96-meter-length, 15-meter-wide transit bridge, which connects Turkmenistan’s Sarakhs to Iran’s Sarakhs on the Tajan River, started in the year ending March 2016 as per an agreement signed in Tehran on Nov. 22, 2015, in a ceremony attended by President Hassan Rouhani and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.
According to Eslami, the new structure facilitates the movement of 1,000 vehicles per day.
“The two-way bridge would play a key role in improving trade between Tehran and Ashgabat, while it would also pave the way for the implementation of the Ashgabat Agreement and help Iran expand its economic ties with countries in the Central Asia region,” he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
Iran and Turkmenistan are members of Ashgabat Agreement—a multimodal transport agreement signed in 2011, which envisages the facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and Persian Gulf.
Latest data show Iran’s commercial exchanges with Turkmenistan stood at 753,985 tons worth $409.78 million in the fiscal 2018-19 to register a 17.58% and 5.04% decline in tonnage and value respectively compared to the year before.
Iran exported 735,880 tons of goods worth $400.48 million to Turkmenistan, down 16.56% and 4.3% in tonnage and value respectively year-on-year.
Iran’s exports to Turkmenistan mainly included potato, sugar, steel structures, apple, pipe and profiles, livestock and poultry feed.
The country imported 18,105 tons of commodities worth $9.29 billion from Turkmenistan, down by 45.09% and 28.77% in tonnage and value respectively YOY, most of which constituted oilcake, cotton linter, mineral oil, textile, sesame and beans.