May 07 2012
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Iraq top trade partner again
Iran is leaping forward in terms of exporting technical-engineering services to Iraq and implementing contract projects in the nation. It is overtaking the regional rivals with $3 billion worth of technical-engineering exports.
However, Iran's share in Iraqi market has not changed compared to previous years. According to Secretary-General of Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce Jahanbakhsh Sanjabi, Iran's share of Iraqi market stands at 7-12 percent.
He blamed short-term attitude of some Iranian businessmen towards the Iraqi market and the prevalence of vending and peddling business at joint borders as the reasons behind Iran's fixed share in Iraqi market.
Pointing to the recent development of global trade and imposition of Western sanctions against Iran, Sanjabi believed that Iraq has the potentials to turn into a new hub for re-exporting Iranian products.
Iran Daily interviewed Sanjabi. Excerpts follow:
Iran Daily: How do you evaluate Iran-Iraq trade? Do you see any change in the level of mutual trade?
Sanjabi: Bilateral trade surpassed $7 billion in last Iranian year (ended March 19). In fact, Iraq has been Iran's first or second trade partner in the past three years. It was the first trade partner during 2009 and 2012 but became Iran's second trade partner in 2011 following China.
It seems that Iraq is going to be our first trade partner again in the current year. Good deals were inked with Iraq in terms of technical-engineering services last year, and majority of them are to be implemented this year.
Considering that some infrastructure such as cargo and passenger transportation and a transit line between the two nations were established to facilitate trade, it is estimated that mutual trade will go beyond $10 billion by the end of this year.
Q: What will be the strategy of the public and private sectors to realize the $10-billion export target?
A: The Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce with the assistance of Taskforce for Economic Development of Iran and Iraq has worked out a program for promoting trade which will set a $10-billion trade vision for us.
In addition, a five-year program has been outlined for bilateral trade with Iraq which sets a $20-billion target for 2016. These targets have been set via conducting feasibility and expert studies.
Q: What are the export items to Iraq?
A: Iran exports 100 main items to Iraq. We dominate the Iraqi market by 70-80 percent in securing 16 staple goods, and by 30-70 percent in supplying 34 other products.
The majority of Iranian exported items include foodstuff and drinks, followed by construction materials, industrial machineries, home appliances, spare parts and other products manufactured by industrial firms.
Final products account for over 90 percent of Iranian commodities exported to Iraq.
Q: Which country is the trade balance in favor of? Does Iraq have a dynamic role in trade with Iran?
A: Currently, bilateral trade balance is heavily in favor of Iran. Our imports from Iraq are meager. It is around $150 million and includes products such as rice, date, and non-durable items.
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