Iran-Turkey main trade gate to reopen this week

June 5, 2020 - 11:9

TEHRAN- The main trade gate between Iran and Turkey, which has been closed for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be reopened this week.

Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said that Ankara will order a reopening of the Gurbulak border gate, known on the Iranian side of the border as Bazargan, to help boost trade between the two neighbors, Press TV reported.

The long-awaited measure comes more than a week after Iranian and Turkish presidents discussed the reopening of air and land borders between the two countries now that the pandemic has slowed down.

Iran sees trade with Turkey as key in efforts to confront the U.S. sanctions that have sought to undermine Tehran’s oil exports. Petrochemical products account for a major share of Iran’s exports to Turkey although the U.S. bans have made it difficult to settle payments between businesses in the two countries.

Turkey also relies on Iran as a major market for its manufacturing goods, including industrial machinery and garment, while it also sends to Iran some sizable shipments of crops and fruits that are not cultivated in the country.

As announced last week by the spokesman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), Iran and Turkey exchanged 6,300 wagons of commodities via railway during a 70-day period from the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20).

According to Rouhollah Latifi, Iran’s exports to Turkey via railway stood at 3,072 wagons of goods and its imports from the neighboring country reached 3,228 wagons during the mentioned period of time.

The official further said, “Turkey has closed Bazargan border with Iran since February 20, so the only way for transportation of goods is via railway, and we hope that the air path and land borders between the two countries will be reopened following a telephone conversation between the presidents of Iran and Turkey in the coming days.”

IRICA Head Mehdi Mir-Ashrafi held a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Riza Tuna Turagay, via video conference on May 5, to discuss reopening of trade borders with the implementation of health and safety protocols.

Readiness to exchange health protocols for reopening trade borders, importing goods from Sarisu trans-boundary market, implementation of the third phase of e-Tir electronic project in all customs offices of the two countries, online exchange of information and X-ray in shared borders were among the important topics of discussion in the said meeting.

Mir-Ashrafi urged Turagay to take all the necessary measures to ensure the reopening of the two countries’ borders since the Turkish borders with its other neighbors are already open.

“The World Trade Organization (WTO) stated that trade borders between countries should not be closed under any circumstances, but due to the coronavirus outbreak the two countries’ largest border, Bazargan, has been closed and we expect the two sides to take necessary measures to reopen the borders in accordance with health protocols”, he stressed.

Turgay for his part expressed hope that the two countries’ borders will be open soon and the trade between the two sides is going to get back to normal soon.

“We are constantly pursuing the reopening of the borders, however, the ministries of health and interior should also approve, but we will do our best,” Turgay said.

In late February, Turkey closed its border with Iran as a preventative measure against the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

On May 1, the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPO) hosted a meeting to explore new health and transportation protocols for trade with Turkey.

According to TPO office of public relations, the meeting was attended by the organization’s head, Hamid Zadboum, along with representatives of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), Iran-Turkey Joint Economic Committee, as well as the ministries of health; transport and urban development; and foreign affairs.

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