Tehran, Baku are friends yet have differences: ex-ambassador  

November 6, 2016 - 21:49

TEHRAN - Mohsen Pakaeen, Iran’s ex-ambassador to Baku, has said Tehran and Baku are closer than any other countries in the region in terms of cultural, linguistic, and religious commonalities.

However, there are still disagreements to address, one of which concerns customs issues, Pakaeen said.  

“We have differences rather than challenges over customs issues, and it is important to solve them since any delay will slow down trade between the two countries,” Pakaeen told the Tehran Times on Sunday at the daily’s pavilion at the press exhibition on Tehran. 

The differences, however, are not related to the two countries themselves but to different standards defined by larger international frameworks, according to Pakaeen. 

“Geographically speaking, Azerbaijan sees itself part of the European zone and has to meet relevant standards. This is while Iran is a member of the Economic Cooperation Organization with different standard sets.” 

Considering this, narrowing disagreements on customs issues provides impetus for stronger future cooperation, Pakaeen remarked. 

According to Azerbaijani officials, Iranian companies have already invested $2.6 billion in Azerbaijan. About $145 million of the total amount has gone to the non-oil sector. This is while some 450 companies with Iranian share operate in Azerbaijan.

Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Iran amounted to $137.65 million in January-September 2016, $34.91 million of which accounted for the export of Azerbaijani goods to Iran, according to the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan.

Senior officials of the two countries have already shown determination to strengthen economic ties. 

During a formal visit to Baku in August, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran aims at widening its ties with countries in the Eurasian and Caucasus regions, working towards free trade. 

“Proximity and development of ties with Eurasian countries, the Caucasus region, especially the country of Azerbaijan, is very important and we should move toward free trade in the future,” Rouhani told a press conference in August with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

AK/PA 

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