EghtesadOnline: Iran supports regional cooperation within the framework of economic, trade and political alliances, as it is the best option to achieve "economic and political convergence" in the region, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.
"The trade agreement signed between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union reflects Iran's comprehensive and constructive view and its political will to contribute to the development of multilateral and regional economic and trade relations," he told an EEU Summit in Yerevan, Armenia, his website reported.
EEU was founded by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and later grew to include Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The economic bloc represents a market of around 183 million people, with a total gross domestic product of $1.9 trillion.
Iran and EEU signed a three-year provisional free trade agreement in 2018. Earlier this year, a bill for setting up a free trade zone between Iran and the union was approved by Iran's Parliament and later ratified by the Guardians Council, which vets legislation passed by parliament for compliance with the constitution. The agreement will be enforced on Oct. 27, according to Financial Tribune.
A total of 502 products will enjoy preferential tariffs close to the zero level once the trade deal takes effect, the president told reporters on Monday before leaving Tehran for Yerevan. "This is the first step and more steps will be taken."
This is the first time Iran enters into a regional economic accord since the Islamic Revolution’s victory in 1979.
In his remarks at the summit, Rouhani said Iran intends to diversify its economic relations and cooperate more actively with countries in the region and beyond, while following the principles of "Resistance Economy", which calls for making the Iranian economy more self-sufficient.
President Rouhani noted that Iran's unique geographical position and the vast potential of its free trade zones offer great opportunities, particularly in the field of transit and transport, which could be used to achieve "sustainable development" and "economic convergence" in the region.
The president called for the removal of transit obstacles in the Eurasian region and proposed that a working group be established to identify potential investment areas between Iran and the union, and facilitate the implementation of joint projects.
In addition, he urged all countries to confront the US unilateralism and said support for the full implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement would help promote regional and global peace and security.
Rouhani held bilateral talks with his counterparts and other senior officials on the sidelines of the main event on Monday and Tuesday, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
During the meetings, the president expressed Iran's willingness to expand ties, especially economic relations, with these countries. He also reiterated that Tehran wants peace and security to prevail in the Persian Gulf region.