Tehran Hosts Fourth Iran-Iraq Economic Commission Meeting

The two-day event is attended by high-ranking officials of both sides with the aim of exploring ways to boost bilateral cooperation in different fields
Tehran Hosts Fourth Iran-Iraq Economic Commission Meeting
Tehran Hosts Fourth Iran-Iraq Economic Commission Meeting

The Fourth Iran-Iraq Economic Commission meeting opened in the Iranian capital Tehran on Tuesday.
Held after a six-year hiatus, the two-day event is attended by high-ranking officials from both sides, IRNA reported. 
The meeting was co-chaired by Iran’s Energy minister Reza Ardakanian and Iraqi Minister of Trade Alaa Ahmed al-Jubouri.
Al-Jubouri arrived in Tehran on Monday at the head of a 50-strong delegation to attend the meeting.  
The joint commission aims to explore ways of boosting bilateral cooperation in different areas based on geographical, cultural and religious commonalities. 
According to Director General of Iran's Trade Promotion Organization's Office of Arab and African Countries, Iraq ranks first among neighboring export destinations for Iranian products.
Farzad Piltan added that Iran's exports to Iraq in the first nine months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Dec. 20, 2020) reached 20 million tons worth $5.9 billion, which shows a 7% increase in weight and a 15% decline in value compared with the same period of last year.
During this period, the Iraqi market was the second largest export destination of Iranian products in the world (accounting for 23.6% of Iran’s total non-oil exports) and the first among neighboring countries, he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Iron bars, tomatoes, watermelons, tomato paste, steam turbine parts, cheese, biscuits, chocolate and sweets, plastics, pistachios, urea, eggs, plastic products, fresh apples, ice cream, bread, melons, polymer sheets, floor coverings, cement, cream and milk are the most important non-oil exports from Iran to Iraq, Piltan said.
Referring to barriers in the way of exports to Iraq, he cited the coronavirus pandemic, the closure of their border terminals and trade markets for about three months after the outbreak, as well as the suspension of trade events such as exhibitions and conferences, as well as restrictions on steel exports and Iraqi agricultural imports, which particularly hit Iran’s dairy exports to the neighboring country.
Iran's Trade Promotion Organization plans to improve its share of the Iraqi market by holding two exclusive exhibitions in Baghdad and Erbil as well as an exhibition pavilion in Sulaimaniyah.
“Iran’s exports to the neighboring country have been at $650 million per month on average so far this year while the figure for the same period of last year stood at $750 million per month. This shows a $100 million decline in average monthly exports,” a member of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, Hamid Hosseini, was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.
The official noted that Iran’s exports to Iraq have not experienced any significant decline in weight over the period, but the types of goods exported have changed.
“Our industrial exports have experienced a fall and instead, mineral and agricultural exports have increased,” he said.
The official said that in the Iranian month ending Dec. 20, exports to Iraq stood at $570 million, which were less than the monthly average of this year, adding that this is while exports annually rise in the second half of the year.
Hosseini noted that the depreciation of Iraqi dinar by 23% in the international markets will have an impact on the types of goods consumed by the Iraqi population, meaning that export figures for luxurious and high-priced commodities are going to shrink.   
“After the depreciation of their national currency, Iraqi traders request discounts on Iranian goods, which are not impossible for Iranian exporters to grant. Yet, this same fact can put our trade at risk, taking into account that our rivals in the neighboring market may take advantage and make commercial interactions difficult for us, particularly when it comes to agricultural products,” he said.
“Our competitors in the Iraqi market are holding one trade and commercial meeting after another in Iraq, while this joint commission will be our first after nearly six years because our officials are tangled up in trying to find cures for domestic issues. The event will provide a good opportunity to survey and solve different handicaps in transport and transit, commodity standard issues, customs tariffs and the Iraqi government’s debts to Iranian contractors.”
Iran’s main rivals in the Iraqi market are Turkey, China, South Korea, India and the US.
Data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show Iraq accounted for about 23% of Iran’s exports during the three quarters of the current fiscal year.
Iraq imports around $32 billion per year. The country’s imports include wheat, rice, vegetable oil, sugar, pharmaceuticals, industrial machinery, cars, power plant and telecom equipment while its main exports are crude oil, chemical products, food and livestock.

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