EghtesadOnline: Three border crossings with Iraq, namely Chazzabeh and Shalamcheh in the southern Khuzestan Province and Mehran in the western Ilam Province, have reopened for exports on all weekdays as of Sept. 12.
Previously, amid the spread of the new coronavirus, customs procedures were carried out only on Sundays and Wednesdays at most border terminals with Iraq, except for Khosravi in western Kermanshah province, which was open to trade during all weekdays, according to Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, IRNA reported.
Chazzabeh was the last of seven official border crossings between the two countries that reopened after about six months following the outbreak of coronavirus. At the beginning of its reopening in late July, 30 trucks were allowed to cross the border.
The official said, “Now 170 trucks carry mainly vegetables and construction materials to the neighboring country via Chazzabeh each day.”
“Three hundred trucks of Iran’s private sector daily carry fruit and vegetables, cucurbits, food, construction materials, minerals and steel products to Iraq through Shalamcheh into the neighboring country,” Ali Mousavi, an official with Arvand Free Trade Zone, 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.
Iraq is the biggest destination of Iran's exports among its neighboring countries.
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 non-oil exports stood at 21.92 million tons worth $6.36 billion in spring, in which Iraq accounted for about 22.8% of Iran's overall exports.
Iran exported more than 25.68 million tons of goods worth $8.99 billion to Iraq in the last fiscal year (March 2019-20).
Iran also exports to Iraq through border crossings with the Kurdish region of the neighboring country, namely Bashmaq, Parvizkhan and Tamarchin, which have remained open throughout the pandemic.
Amid restrictions imposed by the Iraqi government on cross-border trade due to the spread of the new coronavirus, Iran has been directing the bulk of its exports to the neighboring country through its borders with Iraqi Kurdistan.
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.
A total of 479,195 tons of commodities worth $1 billion were transited through Bashmaq border crossing located in the western Kurdestan Province during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Aug. 21).
According to Superintendent of Kurdestan Customs Administration Bakhtiar Rahmanipour, figures show that Bashmaq ranked first in goods transit among all Iranian border crossings during the period, IRNA reported.
Rahmanipour noted that 90% of Kurdestan Province's foreign trade passes through Bashmaq, located in Marivan County of the province.