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Iraq Loosens Border Restrictions

Iraq Loosens Border Restrictions  Iraq Loosens Border Restrictions

Iraq partially reopened its southern Shalamcheh border crossing with Iran on Tuesday after more than three months due to the spread of the new coronavirus, border officials said.
The crossing, for now, is open only for food import, allowing 500 trucks from Iran to enter per week on  Wednesdays and Sundays, one official said.
Iraq closed its international borders and provincial boundaries in March except for the delivery of food as it struggles to fight the deadly coronavirus.
Iran, which shares a long border with Iraq, has been the epicenter of the virus in the Middle East but the spread has also worsened in Iraq which is registering nearly 2,000 new cases every day. More than 2,500 people have died from Covid-19 in the Arab country.
Iran is one of Iraq’s biggest trading partners. Both countries’ economies are in crisis. Iran continues to suffer from US sanctions and Iraq is reeling from low prices of oil, which accounts for almost all its state revenue, Reuters reported.
As for Iran's other border crossings with Iraq, Rouhollah Latifi, spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration recently said prior to the reopening of Shalamcheh that “two of the crossings with the central government of Iraq, namely Mehran in Ilam and Khorramshahr in Khuzestan provinces, are currently open for commerce, and the rest are closed. All border crossings with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region are open.”
As many as 250 trucks from Iran head for Iraq through the northern frontiers (to Iraqi Kurdistan) on a daily basis carrying food and construction materials. Southern borders with the neighbor have yet to reopen completely, Yahya Ale Es’haq, chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, said recently.
Health safety protocols have been designed and implemented for the southern borders, he said. 
Noting that the two borders of Chazabe and Shalamcheh would reopen soon, the official said Mehran border terminal had reopened on June 9. 
Transshipment of Iranian goods through this major  border is allowed on Mondays and Wednesdays, otaghiranonline.ir reported. 
Iraq closed its land borders with Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in early March. 
Iraq is the main destination of Iranian exports to the region. 
About 8.1 million tons of goods worth $3.8 billion were exported to from Iran to Iraq through the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the last fiscal year that ended on March 19, according to a spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
Exports accounted for 42% of Iran’s total exports to Iraq in value and over 31% in volume during the period under review, Rouhollah Latifi was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying.
Parvizkhan border crossing had a share of more than three million tons worth $1.4 billion, followed by Bashmaq with $1.12 billion, and Tamarchin border crossing with $754 million.
Iran exported more than 25.68 million tons of goods worth $8.99 billion to Iraq last year.

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