یحیی آل اسحاق

Iran and Iraq are pursuing several joint projects and trade policies that will both increase the volume of trade between two sides and establish a balanced trade to achieve the $ 20 billion trade target.

In an interview of Yahya Al-Ishaq, head of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce to IBENA,  he announced a 17 percent increase in Iran's exports to neighboring country, saying: In the first eight months of this year, we had $ 6.2 billion in exports to Iraq. We have several programs and executive policies on the agenda with Iraq, one of which is establishment of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway and will be operational soon. Iranian ambassador in Iraq met with Iraqi Minister of Transport on December 20, and Iraqi side promised to implement this joint project as soon as possible. At the same time, we are very interested in doing this at the earliest opportunity, he continued.

The economic activist said that second plan is to pursue transit of goods in Iraq, adding: If this happens, we can get a large amount of import needs through Iraq. In fact, with the passage of Iraqi Transit Law, we can import about $ 6 billion of essential goods through this neighboring country. In our trade relations to Iraq, most of our exports are done to neighboring countries and we have few imports from this country because Iraq does not have products which we want to import them. So, we are trying to establish a trade balance, and in this regard, we are waiting for passage of transit law in the Iraqi parliament that has been approved by the government. In this case, Iraq will be a transit route for us to import goods through other countries by this route, Al-Ishaq added.

According to chief of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce, in this way we can both get a part of claims from Iraq and make a trade balance and increase the volume of exchanges. In addition, with the law of transit of goods, it passes through this route easily and reaches its destination, and it has nothing to do with Iraqi law, and will not be involved in duties, customs, etc. Referring to another important issue that is on the agenda and is being pursued, non-stop transportation is a fundamental and important issue for us, according to which our trucks will go directly to Iraq and unloading and loading will not be done at the border and as same for Iraqi trucks, he said.

Iraq is a very good market for Iran, said Al-Ishaq. Both countries are looking to increase trade relations to $ 20 billion, even though in some years we have recorded $ 14 billion in bilateral trade. It is predicted that by 2022 will be able to achieve this figure to 14 billion dollars. Referring to joint ventures between Iran and Iraq, We are going to make 5 industrial parks on the borders that operate like as free zones and investors can have better relations, he said.

According to agreements between central bank and Iraqi counterpart, release of our blocked resources in Iraq is proceeding, he said. Our main demand is related to electricity, energy and gas sectors, and Iraqi private sector has no arrears, and it has taken the money for every exported product, which, of course, has cost more under current circumstances. Only some of our contractors in technical, engineering and civil services sector have problems that are being pursued. Recently, Iraqi side announced that is ready to pay all our debts to Iran, which were mainly related to sale of gas. Iran's resources in Iraq are between $ 5 billion and $ 7 billion.

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