The goal set in the meeting between Rouhani and Salih is to move from the current 12 billion to a total volume of 20 billion. Iraq is Iran's second largest trading partner after China. The new president of Iraq launches the idea of a "new regional system".
Teheran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iran and Iraq intend to strengthen "bilateral trade" significantly, despite US sanctions against the Islamic Republic which, among other things, aim at eliminating the export of oil. According to the restrictive measures imposed by the White House, nations that do business with Tehran without Washington's consent risk sanctions. However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani launched the challenge by promising that the overall volume of business with Baghdad will increase from the current 12 to 20 billion dollars.
The affirmations of Rouhani arrive at the end of the meeting, which was held in recent days in Tehran, with the Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih. Since 2003, following the US invasion that led to the expulsion of the former raìs Saddam Hussein, the Islamic Republic has "considerably" strengthened its influence in Baghdad.
Moreover, Iraq is the second most important market after China for Iranian products: not just oil but food, agricultural products, electrical supplies and natural gas. "Thanks to bilateral efforts - said Rouhani - we can increase [trade] estimates to reach 20 billion in the near future".
In May, the US pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had signed. In its stead, the US leader imposed the toughest sanctions in history against Iran.
The decision has had a major impact on the Iranian economy, confirmed by reports published by the International Monetary Fund, leading to a drastic decline in oil sales, which was the goal of the second batch of sanctions that came into force on 5 November.
Commenting on the meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, the Iranian president explained that the goal is to increase the data on electricity supplies, the production and export of oil (the main target of US sanctions) and the creation of a free trade area along the border. There is also a project to improve transport and land connections between the two countries.
Salih - who also met the great ayatollah Ali Khamenei - suggested the creation of a "new regional system" that includes the two nations, based on "political integrity, national interests and cooperation between nations and government".