The president of Iran voiced the country’s readiness to expand trade ties with Iraq and increase exports to the neighboring state.

“We are ready to have our tradespeople more active in Iraq and supply the required goods so that we can reach a good balance,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at the Economic-Trade Forum of Iran and Iraq in Baghdad on Monday, his website reported.

Extensive economic and trade cooperation between Iran and Iraq would benefit the both nations and the region, the president stressed, adding, “The two Iranian and Iraqi nations have always been together in recent years in creating security and stability.”

“The Iranian nation and government are very happy that they have been alongside the Iraqi nation and army from the beginning in their fight against terrorism,” Rouhani noted.

Referring to the achievement of stability and security in Iraq, Rouhani said, “Iranian economic and trade executives have stood by the Iraqi nation even when the country was insecure.”

As regards the agreement reached during his meeting with Iraqi official, Rouhani said, “It was also decided that visas still remain in place, but the fees were decided to be removed and visas be issued free of charge.”

“Iran is ready to develop relations in different fields such as energy, and supplying power and gas to Iraq,” he emphasized.

Stressing that Iran is determined to increase trade relations with Iraq to $20 billion from $12 billion, Rouhani said, “Facilitating banking relations can create a historic opportunity for the two nations.”

“Today, we are witnessing the closest relations between the two countries… This historic opportunity can be a turning point in the relations between the two countries,” he concluded.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iraq has emerged as Iran’s top export destination in the current Iranian year, an official announced.

The director of the export bureau of Iran’s Customs Office, Ali Akbar Shadmani, said the value of the country’s exports since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21, 2018) has surpassed $30 billion, with Iraq being the top export destination.

He said the value of exports has risen by 12.5 percent compared to the corresponding period last year.

Iraq has imported 21 percent of the Iranian commodities this year in terms of value, worth $6.607 billion, he noted.

The main goods exported to Iraq include natural gas, steel bars, oils and bitumen, home appliances, and agricultural products, the official added.

President of Iraq Barham Salih visited Tehran on Saturday with a ranking delegation for a series of political and economic talks.

After high-profile talks between the Iranian and Iraqi delegations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the two neighbors can increase their annual trade from the current $12 billion to $20 billion.

Rouhani also noted that the two sides discussed ways for cooperation in the energy, power and oil industry, including the extraction of petroleum, and a plan to connect the two countries’ railroad networks.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By Fehim Tastekin for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

While Turkey was eagerly anticipating a new government in Baghdad to sort out many problems with Iraq, a last minute decision by the outgoing prime minister has added a fresh item to the list of ongoing disagreements between the two countries.

Haider al-Abadi unexpectedly signed a decree to set up three new checkpoints in government-controlled areas in northern Iraq that will effectively slash Turkey’s trade with it.

The trucks that enter the country normally pass through the sole border crossing that is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and will now also have to pass at least one of these additional checkpoints.

Click here to read the full story.

According to a report from Rudaw, thousands of poor quality, overturned or water-damaged American cars have been imported to the Kurdistan Region over the past two years, due to the facilitations made by the KRG to car traders in a bid to increase revenues at customs points.

Statistics produced by the ministry of trade and industry show that 451,337 cars have been imported to the Kurdistan Region over the past five-and-a-half years.

The KRG has dismissed claims it has been facilitating the importation inferior quality cars.

More details here.

(Source: Rudaw)

The head of the Jordanian truck owners Mohammed Khair al-Daoud said on September 7 that about 6,000 trucks are currently at high readiness and are ready to transport goods to Iraq through the Trebil crossing.

Al-Daoud said in a statement to the Jordanian newspaper “Al-Rai”:

“… the Association of truck owners held several meetings with the Iraqi embassy to discuss the transfer of goods to Iraq through the Trebil crossing through obtaining visas and coordination with the competent authorities to discuss the process of transporting goods in the exchange areas”. 

He pointed out that “the Iraqi ambassador had shown great cooperation with the Union of truck owners during the past days” stressing that “in the event of the completion of security and technical measures, the Jordanian trucks will carry out exchanges of goods with Iraqi trucks during the coming period.”

(Source: GardaWorld)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The End of An Industrial Era: Cheap Imports Mean “Made In Iraq” Is Disappearing

Almost half of Basra’s smaller manufacturers have closed in the face of a market flooded with cheap imports. Yet due to the current financial crisis and sinking oil prices, they are more important than ever.

Today Basra woodworker, Haj Karim Nasser, is taking apart what remains in his workshop. He will sell everything that’s left. Nasser has made furniture here for around 25 years. The smell of wood dyes and wood shavings permeates the space.

But Nasser, who has had to close up and lay off 25 staff, has become just another of the latest victims of the open market policies pursued in Iraq since 2003. Nasser now will now work selling foreign exchange in one of Basra’s markets.

“We just couldn’t compete with the cheap, imported stuff,” Nasser told NIQASH. The cost of producing a bedroom suite in our workshop was around US$1,600 and we’d sell it for US$2,000. But you can get Malaysian-made suites here for about US$1,250. The quality is not comparable. But for many people here the cost was more important than the quality.”

In Basra, hundreds of similar business, small workshops and factories have had to close. According to Basra’s Union of Industrialists there used to be about 15,360 industrial operations in the province, in around 13 industrial areas, producing a wide variety of products.

Between now and 2003 around half of these have been forced to close thanks to a lack of government support, high taxes on raw materials and a market flooded with cheap competitors from outside Iraq, they say. A number of government-run factories in Basra which produced iron, steel, paper and fertilizer, were also shut down, which led smaller businesses who used to get their raw materials from these, to shut too.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

An Evil Plot? Iraq’s Most Industry-Savvy Province Refuses to Impose Baghdad’s New Customs Tax

A new customs tax came into effect in August. But in Basra, one of Iraq’s busiest provinces for imports, officials refuse to impose Baghdad’s tax, saying its unfair use is damaging business there.

There are over a thousand cars parked in a Kuwaiti port on the Iraqi-Kuwait border. There are another thousand or more parked in the Umm Qasr port on the Iraqi side of the border.

And apparently they are all sitting there because the importers and exporters refuse to pay the newly-imposed Iraqi customs duty, that has come into effect as part of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s package of financial and administrative reforms.

“We have suffered serious financial damages because of the delay in shipping our products from Kuwait,” local businessman, Saleh al-Sharifi, complained to NIQASH. “And we are paying for the costs of these delays.”

Local importers see the duty as unfair. “The new customs tax has only been applied in Basra – specifically in the ports of Umm Qasr and Safwan,” al-Sharifi says.

“Meanwhile it doesn’t seem to be being applied in the north in Iraqi Kurdistan. It feels as though there are double standards here. Or maybe the Ministry of Finance only actually has power over the ports of Basra?”

In fact the Iraqi government has already said in the past that it doesn’t have control over border crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We had to ask the officials at the Kuwaiti port to stop allowing imported cars in because we don’t have enough space for them in our parking lots,” says a senior official in Safwan, noting that all their car parks are full.

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