EghtesadOnline: Iran’s non-oil exports to Iraq stood at 12 million tons worth $3.16 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal year (March 21-Aug. 22), registering a 53% and 31% growth in weight and value respectively compared to the 7.8 million tons worth $2.4 billion in the corresponding period of last year, according to the secretary-general of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce.
In fact, the neighboring Iraq was the second biggest destination of Iranian goods during the period after China with 10 million tons of imports worth $4.3 billion.
“Imports from Iraq stood at 246,000 tons worth $140 million in the first four months of the current fiscal year [March 21-July 22], registering a 540% growth in terms of value,” Jahanbakhsh Sanjabi Shirazi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
About half of Iran’s exports to Iraq is shipped through Kermanshah Province.
One of the 31 provinces of Iran, Kermanshah has two official borders with Iraq and five active border markets.
According to director general of Arab-African Affairs Office of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, a total of $11 billion worth of agrifood products have been exported to Iraq from Iran during the past five years, of which $3.7 billion belonged to the fruit and vegetable group.
From the fiscal 2016-17 to fiscal 2020-21, about 30% of total exports to Iraq consisted of agricultural and food products, including fruits and vegetables, dairy products, sweets and chocolates, cereals, nuts and dried fruits, flowers and medicinal plants, of which fruits and vegetables constituted the largest volume of export.
“During the period under review, despite the formation of the production process for these types of products in Iraq and the application of prohibitions and tariff and non-tariff restrictions on the import of some goods by the Iraqi government, Iran's exporters of agricultural products and food industry have managed to maintain a strong presence in Iraq,” Farzad Piltan was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, tomato, apple, watermelon, potato, onion, cucumbers and kiwi were the most important goods exported to Iraq from Iran during the period under review.
Preparations for Rail Link Construction Complete
Preparations for the construction of a 32-km line connecting the Iranian and Iraqi railroad systems have been completed.
In a meeting between the ambassador of Iran to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, and the secretary of Council of Ministers in Iraq, Hamid Naim Al-Ghazi, on Aug. 9, it was confirmed that organizations in Iran working on the preparations had completed their work, the International Railway Journal reported last month.
An agreement was reached on May 27 to connect the two country’s railroads via the Basra–Shalamcheh line in southern Iraq, Masjedi said.
A 17-km section connecting the Khorramshahr railroad to the Shalamcheh Border was completed in 2011, but since then the 32-km section has remained incomplete.
“The project will expand trade exchanges and transit transport between the two sides,” he said.
In Iran, Rostam Qasemi, the proposed minister of roads and urban development, confirmed that the government is looking to raise private funds for projects, including building rail lines, due to a contractionary government budget and the ministry’s limited resources.
In further meetings with various parliamentary groups on Aug. 16, Qasemi stressed the need to complete the Iran-China railroad via Afghanistan, and lines to Turkmenistan and China.
Ties With Kurdish Region
Iran has three border crossings with the Kurdish Region of Iraq, namely Bashmaq, Parvizkhan and Tamarchin, through which the country also exports goods to Iraq.
According to data from the Kurdistan Union of Importers and Exporters, annual trade between the Kurdistan Region and Iran amounts to $6 billion. The union also says that out of 11,000 merchants in the Kurdistan Region, about 2,000 of them trade with Iran.
Dozens of business leaders from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and Iran held a symposium lately to enhance cooperation and promote trade between the region and its eastern neighbor.
Attendees described the gathering as "important" and highlighted that Iranian companies consider the Kurdistan Region a significant export destination.
The symposium was held on the sidelines of the 14th International DBX Exhibition in Sulaimaniyah. Businesspeople at the event signed a memoranda of understanding that outlines the development of trade ties.
"This type of gathering helps us benefit from the expertise of Iranian companies and deals with them directly," Mustafa Rahman, the head of the Kurdistan Union of Importers and Exporters, told Kurdish media.
“Cooperation between Iranian and Kurdestani traders has enhanced recently,” said Mehdi Saeed al-Zakerin, the coordinator for the Iranian companies at DBX.
"The Kurdistan Region is an important trade destination, and Iran has always had a good friendship with the Kurdistan Region," he added.
Zakerin said Tehran views the Kurdestan Region as "a close friend".