EghtesadOnline: Iran’s imports from its western neighbor, Iraq, stood at 313,612 tons worth $175.99 million in the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Aug. 22), showing a 970% and 430% surge in weight and value respectively compared with the similar period of last year, according to the spokesperson of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
“Exports to Iraq reached 12.02 million tons worth $3.16 billion, indicating a YOY increase of 53% and 31% in tonnage and value respectively. The figures made the country Iran’s second biggest export destination over the period,” Rouhollah Latifi was also quoted as saying by ISNA.
The official attributed the considerable growth in Tehran-Baghdad trade to the reopening of common borders and easing of regulations related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
About half of Iran’s exports to Iraq is shipped through Kermanshah Province and the Iraqi Kurdish Region.
According to director general of Arab-African Office of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, a total of $11 billion worth of agrifood products have been exported to Iraq from Iran in the past five years, of which $3.7 billion belonged to 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, cereal, nuts and dried fruits, flowers and medicinal plants, of which fruits and vegetables had the largest volume of export from this group.
“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 agricultural and food exporters 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.
Rail Connection in the Making
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi said last week that during his meeting in Tehran with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the two sides discussed the acceleration of Basra-Shalamcheh rail project that connects Iran to Iraq.
He said the Iraqi prime minister has ordered Iraqi officials to give a boost to the strategic Basra-Shalamcheh rail project.
Preparations for the construction of a 32-km line connecting the Iranian and Iraqi rail systems have been completed.
In a meeting between Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, and the secretary of Iraq’s Council of Ministers, Hamid Naim Al-Ghazi, on August 9, it was confirmed that Iranian organizations working on the project 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 says.
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 limited 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.