Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Iraq on March 11 for an official visit.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, the Iranian president will be visiting the Arab country at the official invitation of Baghdad.

It will be Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

On Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi met with Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad to make arrangements for Rouhani’s forthcoming trip.

The Iranian president’s visit would come against the backdrop of Tehran’s efforts to boost its foreign trade in the US sanctions era.

Iraq’s foreign minister said recently that his country is “not obliged” to abide by sanctions imposed by the US against Iran and would be pursuing options to continue bilateral trade.

President of Iraq Barham Salih paid a visit to Tehran in November 2018 with a ranking delegation for a series of political and economic talks.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart at that time, Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stood at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Earlier this month, governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

According to governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati, Iran is going to open euro and dinar-based accounts to process transactions for trade in oil and gas.

Describing Iraq as Iran’s major partner, Hemmati said the two countries have agreed to make the banking ties much stronger.

He also stated that Iraqi companies can reciprocally open accounts in Iranian banks and conduct transactions in dinar.

In December 2018, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce Yahya Ale-Eshaq said the central banks of Iran and Iraq were finalizing negotiations to begin trade in their own currencies.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim has made it clear that his country cannot cut off trade ties with Iran under the US sanctions.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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

Iran questions Iraq’s promise to import oil despite sanctions

Iran and Iraq have quite different views of their relationship status, with Tehran claiming it’s been jilted and Baghdad declaring it’s being faithful.

Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh (pictured) surprised Iraqi officials Feb. 7 when he very publicly expressed dissatisfaction with Iraq “reversing some oil agreements, and refusing to invest in the border oil fields and to pay Iran its [$2 billion in] debts.”

He indicated that “Baghdad’s commitment to the US sanctions has prompted [Iraq] to revoke minor agreements, such as the Kirkuk deal, under which we traded 11,000 barrels of oil a day.”

Iraq ended that deal in November under US pressure. The United States has imposed sanctions on Tehran and countries that defy those sanctions by continuing to do business with Iran.

Zangeneh’s remarks contradict the outcome of his meeting in Baghdad with Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban last month, when they agreed that Iraq would import gas from Iran and develop some border fields.

Click here to read the full story.

Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Ali Asghar Mounesan said removing visa restrictions on travels between Iran and Iraq could serve the interests of both nations.

Speaking at a meeting with Iraq’s Culture and Tourism Minister Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, Mounesan, also a vice-president, praised bilateral relations between Tehran and Baghdad as “brotherly and very cordial” and said the two countries enjoy good ties in all economic, social, and political areas.

“Each year, millions of Iranian and Iraqi tourists visit the two countries and there is a readiness to promote relations in the field of tourism,” he noted.

Referring to the abolition of the visa requirements for Iranians visiting Turkey and Oman, the official urged a similar move by Iraq and said an increase in the number of tourists from the two countries would be in the interests of both nations.

“We should make efforts to speed up this process by lifting visa requirements,” said the vice president.

Annually, millions of Muslim pilgrims, mainly from Iran, travel long routes to Iraq’s Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam, is located.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume in the past years.

Iran’s main exports to the neighboring country include agro products, foodstuff and fruits such as watermelon, tomato and cucumber, which account for 37% of the total exports.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By John Lee.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly suspended oil exports to Iran.

According to Anadolu Agency, the KRG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy did not specify a reason for the move, and “it remains unclear whether the suspension is linked to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

High-ranking officials from Iran and Iraq on Friday signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and a contract to boost cooperation between the two countries in the electricity industry.

At the end of his three-day visit to Iran, Iraqi Minister of Electricity Luay al-Khatteeb signed two MoUs and a contract on the electric industry with Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ardakanian said, “What is happening today as a result of the Iraqi minister of electricity’s visit to Iran and the negotiations that took place during this visit is the beginning of a new chapter in the comprehensive cooperation between the two countries in the field of electrical industry.”

“Within the framework of this cooperation, we intend to not only continue electricity exports as long as and as much as required by our Iraqi brothers and sisters, but also cooperate with them in technical terms… in the field of electricity,” he added.

The agreements came as governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

The deal on the payment mechanism was signed in a meeting between Iran’s Abdolnaser Hemmati and Iraq’s Ali Mohsen al-Allaq in Baghdad on Tuesday.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Rouhani hoped that cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad would contribute to regional security and stability.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

High-ranking officials from Iran and Iraq on Friday signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and a contract to boost cooperation between the two countries in the electricity industry.

At the end of his three-day visit to Iran, Iraqi Minister of Electricity Luay al-Khatteeb signed two MoUs and a contract on the electric industry with Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ardakanian said, “What is happening today as a result of the Iraqi minister of electricity’s visit to Iran and the negotiations that took place during this visit is the beginning of a new chapter in the comprehensive cooperation between the two countries in the field of electrical industry.”

“Within the framework of this cooperation, we intend to not only continue electricity exports as long as and as much as required by our Iraqi brothers and sisters, but also cooperate with them in technical terms… in the field of electricity,” he added.

The agreements came as governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

The deal on the payment mechanism was signed in a meeting between Iran’s Abdolnaser Hemmati and Iraq’s Ali Mohsen al-Allaq in Baghdad on Tuesday.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Rouhani hoped that cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad would contribute to regional security and stability.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran unveiled plans for using non-dollar accounts for oil and gas trade with Iraq.

Abdolnaser Hemmati on Wednesday held a meeting with presidents of Iraqi banks, members of Iraq’s chamber of commerce and the Arab country’s business people during a trip to Baghdad.

In the gathering, the top Iranian banker unveiled a new mechanism to continue Iran’s trade with Iraqi businesses, saying the CBI is going to open euro and dinar-based accounts to process transactions for trade in oil and gas.

Describing Iraq as Iran’s major partner, Hemmati said the two countries have agreed to make the banking ties much stronger.

“According to the agreements, Iranian exporters should be able to continue activities via Iraqi banks, and Iranian banks could also open dinar accounts in Iraqi banks.”

He also stated that Iraqi companies can reciprocally open accounts in Iranian banks and conduct transactions in dinar.

In December 2018, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce Yahya Ale-Eshaq said the central banks of Iran and Iraq were finalizing negotiations to begin trade in their own currencies.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim has made it clear that his country cannot cut off trade ties with Iran under the US sanctions, saying the value of annual trade between Iran and Iraq amounts to $12 billion.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

The governor of the Central Bank of Iran unveiled plans for using non-dollar accounts for oil and gas trade with Iraq.

Abdolnaser Hemmati on Wednesday held a meeting with presidents of Iraqi banks, members of Iraq’s chamber of commerce and the Arab country’s business people during a trip to Baghdad.

In the gathering, the top Iranian banker unveiled a new mechanism to continue Iran’s trade with Iraqi businesses, saying the CBI is going to open euro and dinar-based accounts to process transactions for trade in oil and gas.

Describing Iraq as Iran’s major partner, Hemmati said the two countries have agreed to make the banking ties much stronger.

“According to the agreements, Iranian exporters should be able to continue activities via Iraqi banks, and Iranian banks could also open dinar accounts in Iraqi banks.”

He also stated that Iraqi companies can reciprocally open accounts in Iranian banks and conduct transactions in dinar.

In December 2018, Chairman of Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce Yahya Ale-Eshaq said the central banks of Iran and Iraq were finalizing negotiations to begin trade in their own currencies.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim has made it clear that his country cannot cut off trade ties with Iran under the US sanctions, saying the value of annual trade between Iran and Iraq amounts to $12 billion.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdonnaser Hemmati said Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has voiced “his firm support” for the banking deal reached between the two countries on Tuesday night and called for its rapid implementation.

“After a long and four-hour meeting last night with the governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, I had a very good and constructive meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq on Wednesday, February 6,” Hemmati said in a post on social media.

“I appreciated his determination to develop political and economic relations between the two countries,” he wrote.

“He declared his firm support for the two sides’ banking agreement and urged the governor of Iraq’s Central Bank to quickly pursue and implement the deal,” Hemmati stated.

In a meeting between Hemmati and his Iraqi counterpart, Ali Mohsen al-Allaq, in Baghdad on Tuesday night, the agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties was signed.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Rouhani hoped that cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad would contribute to regional security and stability.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Governors of the central banks of Iran and Iraq signed an agreement to develop a payment mechanism aimed at facilitating banking ties between the two neighboring countries.

The deal on the payment mechanism was signed in a meeting between Iran’s Abdolnaser Hemmati and Iraq’s Ali Mohsen al-Allaq in Baghdad on Tuesday night.

Speaking at the meeting, Hemmati described Iraq as Iran’s biggest trade partner and said banking relationship is the factor needed for the durability of bilateral ties between the two countries.

Hemmati further pointed to the US sanctions against Iran and said by waging an economic war against the Islamic Republic, Washington has made extensive efforts to disturb the economic and political conditions of Iran.

However, he added, with the arrangements made by Iran, fortunately, the enemy plots have been thwarted and the Iranian economy has become stable.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran in November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the value of trade and economic interaction between Tehran and Baghdad stands at around $12 billion, adding that the two neighbors have the potential for a $20-billion trade target.

Rouhani hoped that cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad would contribute to regional security and stability.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)