ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iran, for the first time, ranked top on the list of exporters to Iraq, followed by Turkey and China with small margins, said an Iranian minister on Saturday.
More than half of the total exports passed through the Iranian province of Kermanshah (Kermashan). The geographical position of that area gives it "unprecedented" opportunities for trade, said Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade Reza Rahmani, as reported by the state-owned Fars News Agency.
Kermanshah is in western Iran, squarely in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) and has a 371-kilometer border with Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
Rahmani called for efforts to maintain the top position by "taking advantage of all possibilities" because rivals such as Turkey and China are not far behind in total exports.
The official stressed the need to pay close attention to its exports to Iraq during this year and to take the subject more seriously than in previous years, adding that prioritizing exports to neighboring countries was now a necessity for the Islamic Republic.
Iran is currently under tough US sanctions, with the first batch being imposed in May 2018 and the second, which targets the financial and energy sectors, going into effect four months later in November.
Recently, Iraq and Iran agreed to remove visa fees that travelers from either country would be required to pay when visiting the other, aiming to strengthen relations between the two peoples as well as between the two states.
Since 2003, Iran and Turkey have dominated the markets of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq with their products.
Iraq continues to rely heavily on neighboring Iran to fulfill its economic and power supply needs.
Editing by John J. Catherine