EconomyIranIraqMiddle East

Envoy: Iran, Iraq Eying $20bln Trade despite US Sanctions

Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi stressed Tehran and Baghdad's determination to boost the volume of their trade transactions to $20bln despite Washington's embargoes.

“The Iranian companies have a market share of $10bln in Iraq at present, and assessments show that the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries should increase to $20bln,” Masjedi told reporters on the sidelines of an Iranian exhibition in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Meantime, Iraqi officials downplayed impacts of the US decision to cancel waivers on Iran crude sanctions, stressing that Baghdad will continue purchase of gas and electricity from Tehran.

“Washington should come to realize that Iraq enjoys trade, economic, geographical and security ties with Iran and it cannot be needless of Iran’s energy,” Senior Member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Energy Committee Razzaq Maheibas was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Arabi al-Jadid as saying on Tuesday.

Also, an official at the Iraqi electricity ministry said on Monday that there is no replacement available for Iraq’s gas imports from Iran, adding that there would 4,000MW of power shortage in case Iraq stops gas imports from Iran.

US President Donald Trump on Monday declared his decision to end exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran.

The White House said on Monday waivers for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey would expire in May, after which they could face US sanctions themselves.

This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero.

Iran insisted the sanctions were illegal and that it had attached “no value or credibility” to the waivers.

Oil prices surged to a nearly six-month high after the Trump administration said it would end waivers that allow countries to import Iranian oil.

Japan and South Korea are heavily dependent on foreign oil, specially from Iran, and Pompeo said the administration had been trying to find alternatives. But Monday’s move could strain relations – already tested over issues of trade and US policy towards North Korea – with these close allies.

It’s an even bigger problem for India, which is also under American pressure to cut oil purchases from Venezuela. Iran is one of Delhi’s main oil suppliers. But India also has deep cultural and political ties with Tehran, which make it difficult to join the US attempts against the country.

China is Iran’s other big customer: it has slammed the US decision, saying its trade is perfectly legal, and the US has no jurisdiction to interfere. The question is whether Beijing will try to skirt sanctions through companies not tied to the US financial system.

Turkey was most outspoken in lobbying for a waiver extension. Ankara argues that it badly needs the oil, that as a neighbor it can’t cut ties with Iran, and that the pressure campaign won’t work anyway.

Back to top button
Close