Iraq reopens border to Iranian goods after three months
A key border for entry of Iranian goods into Iraq has reopened after more than three months of closure to combat the new coronavirus.
According to Press TV, Iraqi border officials said they reopened the southern Shalamcheh border for some 500 trucks of foodstuff from Iran per week Tuesday.
Iran is one of Iraq’s biggest trading partners and their shared border is the longest for both countries. However, their close ties have detractors, mainly in the US which is pressuring Baghdad to pivot away from Tehran toward American allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia.
While Washington has made little progress so far in its bid, the coronavirus has hit trade. Head of the Iran-Iraq joint chamber of commerce Yahya Ale Es’haq said in April exports of Iranian goods and services to Iraq were down at $11 billion year on year in February from $13 billion in 2019, affected by the coronavirus.
For their run-of-the-mill sustenance, Iraqis depend on Iranian companies for many things from food to machinery, electricity, natural gas, fruits and vegetables.
The West Asian country also relies on Iran for natural gas that generates as much as 45% of its electricity. Iran transmits another 1,000-1,500 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its southwestern neighbor.
The Islamic Republic, for its part, is pushing forth with a 2025 vision plan to raise its exports to Iraq to $20 billion a year despite the illegal pressures of Washington on Baghdad to keep Tehran at its arm’s length.