EghtesadOnline: A total of 1.3 million tons of commodities worth $535 million were exported from the western Kurdestan Province’s Bashmaq border crossing during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Aug. 21), registering a 91% and 22% rise in tonnage and value respectively compared with the similar period of last year.
According to Director General of Bashmaq Border Terminal Farid Haqpanah, imports through the crossing increased by 54% in tonnage, without elaborating further.
The official noted that revenues earned by this checkpoint over the period rose by 292% year-on-year to 479 billion rials ($1.79 million).
“Contraband confiscated at Bashmaq has experienced a 284% year-on-year rise,” he added.
According to Superintendent of Kurdestan Customs Administration Bakhtiar Rahmanipour, a total of 479,195 tons of commodities worth $1 billion were transited through Bashmaq during the same period.
As such, Bashmaq ranked first in goods transit among all Iranian border crossings from March 20 to August 21.
The official added that 90% of Kurdestan Province's foreign trade pass through Bashmaq.
Bashmaq is among Iran’s main border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and remained open all along, despite the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
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 borders with the Iraqi Kurdistan, namely Bashmaq, Parvizkhan and Tamarchin, which have been open throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Iraqi Borders Now Open to Iran Exports All Weekdays
It was recently announced that three border crossings with Iraq, namely Chazzabeh and Shalamcheh in southern Khuzestan Province and Mehran in the western Ilam Province, have reopened for exports during all weekdays as of Sept. 12
“More than $1 billion worth of goods were transited through the checkpoint over the five-month period, indicating a 28% decline YOY. Last year, transits amounted to an overall of $4 billion, showing a 10% growth compared with the year before,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
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 spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
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.”
“Each day, 300 trucks of Iran’s private sector 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 is the biggest destination of Iran's exports among its neighboring countries.
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.
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 IRICA spokesman.
“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.