Tehran, Baghdad vow to expand oil cooperation

FNA – Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and his Iraqi counterpart Thamir Ghadhban, in a meeting in Baghdad, exchanged view on ways to broaden bilateral cooperation, and pledged to expand relations between oil industries of the two countries.

During a meeting, Zanganeh expressed hope that mutual talks between Iranian and Iraqi officials would bear fruit.

For his part in the same meeting, Ghadhban highlighted the common grounds between Tehran and Baghdad, and voiced hope that negotiations between the two countries would be successful.

The two ministers also exchanged views on areas of cooperation in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Last Saturday, the Customs Administration of Iran (CAI) announced that Iran had exported 15.485 million tons of non-oil commodities worth $6.929 billion to Iraq in the first 3 quarters of the current Iranian year (started on March 21, 2018), which is 59.17% more in weight and 48.7% higher in value, compared with corresponding period last year.

Iran exported 15.485 million tons of non-oil commodities worth $6.929 billion to Iraq during the past nine months (March 21- Dec. 21, 2018), keeping the Arab country its top export destination for several consecutive months.

According to the data released by the CAI, the figure accounts for 17.81% of the volume and 20.77% of the value of Iran’s exports during the nine-month period.

Iran’s exports to Iraq in the past nine months surged by 59.17% in weight and 48.7% in value comparing the last year’s corresponding period. Last year’s exports to Iraq during the similar time span stood at 9.729 million tons with a value of $4.659 billion.

Iran mainly exports agricultural products, plastic and polyethylene commodities, steel products, car parts, and construction materials, such as stone, tiles and ceramics, as well as electrical and mechanical machinery, liquefied gas, hydrocarbons, and minerals to Iraq.

Earlier in mid-October, Secretary-General of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce Hameed Hosseini announced that Iran’s export to Iraq has registered a 45% growth in the first half of the current Iranian year (started on March 21).

According to the same source, while Iraq was the third export destination of Iranian goods and commodities, bilateral trade between the two countries has witnessed noticeable rise in the aforementioned period and now Iraq has “moved up to the second place in this year”.

“Iraq’s import from Iran was $4.5b in the period, while that of China, the table topper in the list, was $4.6b in the same period,” he quoted the figures adding that the wee difference implies that Iraq may surpass China to the top of the list.

Hosseini also said that Iran has been the third provider of goods to Iraq, after China and Turkey. He voiced hope that the statistics and figures are recounting a trend that would lead to Iran’s surpassing Turkey in Iraqi market.

According to Hosseini while Iran’s export grew 14% in the half-year period between March 21 and September 22, the country’s export to Iraq upped 45% in the same period.

To some experts, the rise in Iran’s export to Iraq can be attributed to the victory of the Iraqi forces against ISIL terrorists, which led to the return of four, out of the six, million refugees to their homes, which provided a greater opportunity for Iran’s presence in the market of food and construction materials in northern Iraq.

Referring to the US sanctions on Iran, Hosseini said that the only pressure the US can impose on Iraq is in the area of banking transactions with Iran. “And that’s because 45% of the biggest Iraqi bank is owned by US JPMorgan Chase,” he added.