ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – US sanctions on Iran have had a positive impact on the Kurdistan Region’s economic trade, boosting the movement of goods at the border with its neighboring country’s Kurdish areas, a Kurdish official claimed on Tuesday.
On Aug. 6, the Trump administration announced the re-imposition of economic sanctions on Tehran which had been lifted when the 2015 nuclear deal was signed.
Economically, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region has enjoyed a notable increase in economic trade on its border with Iran as the value of the Iranian currency plummets under the newly-imposed US sanctions.
“The US sanctions on Iran have had no negative implications on us [the Kurdistan Region] because we use US dollars and Iraqi dinars as our currency. The value of these two currencies now are much stronger against the Iranian Toman [Riyal],” Abdullah Akreyi, the Director-General of Kurdistan Region–Iran relations, told the official website of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
He explained that with the dramatic fall of the Riyal, Kurdish businessmen are now able to import more goods from Iran through its multiple border crossings.
“If they were importing a single truck carrying goods from Iran before, they are now importing four trucks at the same cost,” Akreyi stated.
“A lot of people are taking advantage of this to travel to Iran which has created a heavy load on the border crossings. Almost 3,000 people from the Kurdistan Region cross into Iran on a daily basis.”
The Kurdish official noted that the import business booming, job opportunities on the border have also increased.
Akreyi added that, so far, no decision has been made in the Kurdistan Region to halt its trade with Iran.
“We don’t want to halt trade because our people need it. But, if the Iraqi [federal] government made a country-wide decision for the border gates to close, we would be obliged to implement it,” he concluded.
Previously, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, stated that the semi-autonomous region would deal with the new US sanctions on Iran within the framework and policies of Iraq.
“Until now, the sanctions are not clear for us in the Kurdistan Region. I believe they are not clear to them, yet, either,” Barzani said in response to a question asked by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Aras Ahmed during a press conference in Erbil.
“But certainly, the Kurdistan Region’s steps will be in line with the policies and position of Iraq,” he continued. “We have asked the US and Baghdad to give us more clarifications on the matter.”
He mentioned that the KRG had asked the US to send a delegation to explain what exactly should and should not be done to avoid violating provisions within the economic sanctions.
“We do not want to violate the terms of the sanctions; we want to receive further clarifications of what lies under those embargoes,” Barzani added.
Both the Kurdistan Region and Iran have substantial economic ties, accounting for billions of dollars annually in trade.
Editing by Nadia Riva