ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region and Iran are in the process of expanding trade relations on a long-term basis, the top Kurdish official said on Wednesday.
The 4th economic conference between the two kicked off in Erbil that morning with the participation of Kurdish, Iraqi, and Iranian officials.
During the conference, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) supports any activities that will serve to strengthen trade with the neighboring country of Iran.
He mentioned that recent dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad had resolved disputes between them, mostly related to the Kurdistan Region’s border crossings and trade activities, and have found a way to do so within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.
Barzani stated that there are ongoing talks with Baghdad to address all remaining issues.
Regarding economic relations with Iran, the Kurdish Premier stated that current total trade between Erbil and Tehran adds up to about $6.5 billion annually.
He also noted that 67 percent of automobile imports to the Kurdistan Region are brought through the Iranian border. According to Barzani, there are 359 Iranian companies and 135 Iranian factories in the Kurdistan Region, all of which, combined, create hundreds of local jobs.
There are three international border crossings between the Kurdistan Region and Iran; Haji Omaran, Bashmakh, and Parwezkhan. There are also five additional local-level gates, some of which Barzani said the KRG will be putting effort into promoting to the international level.
He revealed that the KRG would attempt to open a free trade zone at the Parwezkhan border crossing with Iran to expand trade activity in the area.
The conference is organized by the KRG’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Among the attendees are Iraqi Acting Minister of Industry and Minerals Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi, and governors of Tehran and other Iranian provinces bordering the Kurdistan Region
On Wednesday, Director-General of the Kurdistan Region – Iran relations at the KRG's Department of Foreign Relations Abdullah Akreyi told Kurdistan 24 that the conference will continue for two days, and a memorandum of understanding would be signed between Erbil and Tehran to increase long-term economic and trade ties.
Editing by John J. Catherine