Tehran, Baghdad to Ink 5-year Economic Cooperation Document
By Staff, Agencies
Iran’s Minister of Cooperative, Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Shariatmadari said Tehran and Baghdad have reached an agreement to sign a 5-year economic cooperation document.
“The signing of the economic document was raised during the meeting with Iraq’s finance minister and was welcomed by him, and we hope to reach an agreement in the fields of customs investment, border markets and similar issues,” Shariatmadari said after the meeting in Baghdad on Sunday.
He said the document is expected to be signed during an upcoming visit of Iraq’s economy minister to Iran before the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.
“Broader economic issues, especially infrastructural issues and give-and-take economic opportunities, will be common areas of cooperation that both sides are optimistic about,” the Iranian minister added.
Shariatmadari also explained that the two sides are laying the groundwork for a system of preferential tariffs in order to establish a large joint market, which would also lead to the establishment of a wider market in other neighboring countries.
“This market, given that Iran has 15 neighbors, can open up 60 economic opportunities for the two countries and create a large joint collaboration, which was also approved by the Iraqi side,” he said.
During the Sunday meeting, Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi expressed hope that by signing a comprehensive agreement, bilateral economic and financial relations would be further expanded, and that the two sides would enjoy the benefits of such cooperation.
“Iran has good and valuable experiences in various fields, especially resource development and manpower training, and we welcome it for the growth, prosperity and progress of the Iraqi economy,” Allawi said.
He noted that Iraq welcomes Iran’s ideas in technical fields, the establishment of schools for skills training, handicrafts and cultural heritage.
The Iraqi minister also said his country’s natural gas and electricity debt to Iran will be paid soon.
Iraq has received rounds of exemptions from US sanctions on the Islamic Republic so that it can import gas and electricity from Iran.
However, the Arab country has so far paid a small part of its massive debt, citing banking sanctions imposed by the US as a major issue.