The total amount of Iranian exports to neighboring Iraq during the last Iranian year (ended March 20) hit a record high, data released by the Iranian Customs Administration showed.
During the last Iranian year, Iran exported $9 billion worth of products to Iraq, indicating a 36-percent increase compared to a year earlier, setting a record in the bilateral trade between the two countries, Tasnim News Agency reported.
The data showed that the total value of Iran’s non-oil exports over the 12-month period amounted to $44 billion, with petrochemicals accounting for $14 billion of the exports.
The top export destination of Iran was China, according to the report.
Iran and Iraq have stepped up efforts in recent years to develop their ties in different areas, including economy and trade.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih in Tehran back 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.
Meanwhile, Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi stressed Tehran and Baghdad’s determination to boost the volume of their trade transactions to $20 billion despite Washington’s sanctions.
“Iranian companies have a market share of $10 billion in Iraq at present, and assessments show that the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries should increase to $20 billion,” Masjedi told reporters on the sidelines of an Iranian exhibition in Baghdad on Tuesday.
Meantime, Iraqi officials downplayed the impacts of the US decision to cancel waivers on Iran crude sanctions, stressing that Baghdad will continue the purchase of gas and electricity from Tehran.
“Washington should come to realize that Iraq enjoys trade, economic, geographical and security ties with Iran and it cannot be needless of Iran’s energy,” Senior Member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Energy Committee Razzaq Maheibas was quoted by the Arabic-language Al-arabi al-jadid as saying on Tuesday.
Also, an official at the Iraqi Electricity Ministry said on Monday that there is no replacement available for Iraq’s gas imports from Iran, adding that there would 4,000 MW of power shortage if Iraq stops gas imports from Iran.
US President Donald Trump on Monday declared his decision to end exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran.
The White House said on Monday that waivers for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey would expire in May, after which they could face US sanctions themselves.
This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero.
Iran insisted the sanctions were illegal and that it had attached “no value or credibility” to the waivers.
Oil prices surged to a nearly six-month high after the Trump administration said it would end waivers that allow countries to import Iranian oil.
Japan and South Korea are heavily dependent on Iranian crude oil, and Pompeo said the administration had been trying to find alternatives. But Monday’s move could strain relations – already tested over issues of trade and US policy towards North Korea – with these close allies.
It’s an even bigger problem for India, which is also under American pressure to cut oil purchases from Venezuela. Iran is one of Delhi’s main oil suppliers, and India also has deep cultural and political ties with Tehran, which make it difficult to join the US attempts against the country.
China is Iran’s other big customer: It has slammed the US decision, saying its trade is perfectly legal, and the US has no jurisdiction to interfere. The question is whether Beijing will try to skirt sanctions through companies not tied to the US financial system.