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Stability in Iraq essential to improving trade ties with Iran

Tehran, Jan 16, IRNA -- The head of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce said in Tehran on Sunday that efforts to give the Iraqi market a greater share in international transactions would not bear fruit as long as political conditions in the war-torn country does not improve.

The English-language 'Iran Daily' quoted Farhad Fozoui as saying that Iran exported 270 million dollars worth of goods to Iraq during March-September 2004 period.

He said the figure shows a decline in the volume recorded in the previous year.

"Exports to Iraq would continue to face numerous challenges unless social, political and economic stability and security are restored in the country," he said, expressing optimism the presidential election later this month would have the desired effect of restoring stability to the country.

Fozoui pointed out that with the current situaion in Iraq, the two countries' chamber of commerce will not be able to do much to improve bilateral trade ties, adding that the Iranian side is waiting for the return of political and economic stability in Iraq.

He said the chamber has invited Iraqi Ambassador to Tehran Mohammad majid Al-Sheikh to attend its next session.

Iranian exports to Iraq and Afghanistan stood at 500 and 200 million dollars respectively last year. These figures could increase considerably in March, he predicted.

Reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have provided Iranian businessmen with the opportunity to invest in the two war- torn countries.

Iranian exports consisted mainly of foodstuff, garments, carpets and construction materials to Iraq and Afghanistan last year. Iraqi customs offices do not charge duties on goods imported from Iran.

Iran consider Iraq a good trading partner particularly in view of the holy Shiite sites that Iranians may visit in that country. The private sector can also play a crucial role in boosting Iranian investments in the two countries.

Experts believe there is room for increased exports of Iranian goods and services to Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, Iraqis keep calling for stability in the prices of Iranian-made goods and have warned that unstable prices would lower demand.

US-led invasions on Afghanistan and Iraq have badly damaged the infrastructures of these countries and although donor countries have pledged billions of dollars in aid, reconstruction remains a slow process.

Huge technical and engineering assistance from other countries is also deemed necessary to speed up reconstruction and restore normalcy to these countries.

... Payvand News - 1/16/05 ... --

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