EghtesadOnline: Iranian trucks are once again permitted to enter Georgia after a one-year ban, according to the director general of Transit and International Transportation Affairs Bureau of Iran Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization.
After the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in Iran in mid-February 2020, Georgia banned the entry of Iranian trucks into its territory to avoid the viral spread.
“After negotiations between the two sides, the restrictions were lifted as of Feb. 1 and our truck drivers can enter Georgia to transport goods or use the neighboring country’s roads for transport purposes,” Javad Hedayati was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The official noted that some 20,000 Iranian trucks are engaged in carrying goods to or transiting commodities through Georgia which, as per the memorandum of understanding signed between the officials of the two countries, can resume their commute.
Without prior notice, Georgia in late May stopped both trucks and freight trains heading from Iran via Red Bridge, the crossing point between Georgia and Azerbaijan on the Tbilisi-Ganja Road, according to Fatemeh Moqimi, the chairwoman of Iran-Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
The border closure followed the first shutdown at the outset of the new coronavirus outbreak, when almost all neighboring countries, including Georgia, closed their land border crossings with Iran. Many gradually ended coronavirus-related border restrictions.
“On May 27, Azeri officials refused entry to Iranian cargos,” Rouhollah Latifi, the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, said back then.
Reasons behind this refusal have yet to be announced but some blame it on disagreements between Baku and Tbilisi about the mode of transportation, he added.
Discussing the probable reasons behind the second round of closure, Ali Hosseini, a senior Iran Chamber of Commerce member, said, “The Transportation Commission of the chamber is looking into the matter and it seems that such measures have been taken on the grounds of Covid-19 health protocols. These speculations can’t be confirmed at this point, because it is only Iranian trucks and trains that have been subject to the new round of restrictions.”
Ali Shariati, a member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, said lobbying between Ankara and Tbilisi might have led to such an arrangement.
“Turkey is willing to limit Iran’s access to the European markets. It took the most advantage of the situation following the spread of coronavirus. At first, Georgia banned Iranian imports via railroad and then expanded the ban to Iranian trucks,” he said.
Behnam Faramarzian, the caretaker of ICCIMA’s International Transportation Department, has talked of Turkey and Georgia stonewalling Iran’s exports.
“We are now forced to take routes in the Republic of Dagestan to export Iranian goods to Europe. None of the countries, except Turkey and Georgia, had placed restrictions based on the nationality of exporters. But these two countries placed a total ban on the entry of Iranian drivers following the outbreak of coronavirus; they have not lifted the ban until now,” Faramarzian said.
Behrouz Olfat, director general of Europe and America Commercial Affairs Bureau affiliated with the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, told IRNA that due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the closure of land borders and economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic, Iran-Georgia trade has declined this year.
“Over the first nine months of the current Iranian year [March 20-Dec. 20, 2020], Iran exported $31 million worth of commodities and imported $57 million in return,” he said.