Tehran, Baku discuss expansion of economic ties amid coronavirus outbreak

June 23, 2020 - 12:17

TEHRAN- In a recent telephone conversation, Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Farhad Dejpasand and Azerbaijan’s Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev have explored the ways for the expansion of bilateral economic relation between the two countries amid the coronavirus outbreak, Mehr news agency reported on Monday.

Dejpasand, who is also the Iranian chairman of the joint cooperation committee of the two counties, said, “I hope that with the help of bilateral cooperation, we will be able to witness the expansion and strengthening of economic relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.”

The minister also expressed hope that through observing anti-coronavirus health protocols the two sides can hold the 14th meeting of Iran-Azerbaijan Joint Economic Committee in the near future.

He also referred to the building of a joint industrial park near the border of the two countries and joint projects of North-South Corridor which is a 7,200-km-long multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

A preliminary agreement on the establishment of a joint Iranian-Azerbaijani industrial park was reached in 2019. Along with a joint industrial park, the two countries will also set up a joint logistics center in Iran's Ardebil Province.

Dejpasand wanted Mustafayev to take measures to support Iranian transit drivers dealing with issues when entering Azerbaijan in the time of coronavirus.

Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Mustafayev said his country has a comprehensive plan to limit the negative effects of the coronavirus outbreak and to support the employers and people active in trade and economy, and promised to pursue all the points mentioned by the Iranian side and try to finalize the projects with collaboration.

During an online meeting in late April, Iran and Azerbaijan had reviewed customs and transportation cooperation, and discussed the issues regarding the limitations and the lockdown applied by both countries due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As reported, the Azeri side of the meeting was headed by the country’s Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee Cavad Mustafa Gasimov.

In the meeting, the two sides discussed the compliance of cargo transportation through the two countries' border crossings with the quarantine regime applied amid the pandemic, and they also explored the regulations regarding vehicle traffic and the transfer of goods across the border.

They also discussed the technical issues related to the transfer of cargos to their joint vehicle manufacturing plant AzKron which is operating in the Naftchala industrial zone in southern Baku.

As one of the biggest production units in Neftchala zone, AzKron is currently producing several models of passenger cars.

Having close cultural ties, Iran and Azerbaijan have broadened their relations in all areas in the past few years.

In addition to the automobile plant, establishing the North-South corridor, co-manufacturing heavy trucks, and establishing a joint pharmaceutical plant are some other projects in which the two neighbors are cooperating.

As recently reported, Iran has exported 41,535 tons of commodities to Azerbaijan from its northern Astara railway terminal during the first two months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20-May 20), which was 178 percent more than the figure of the same period of time in the past year, according to a railway official.

The managing director of north railway Gholam-Hossein Valadi told IRNA that cement, clinker, chemical products, tiles, steel, and home appliances were among the goods exported to Azerbaijan.

Astara Port is the westernmost Iranian city on the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea with a population of 91,000 people. The city also borders the Azerbaijan Republic.

In early March 2017, Azerbaijan officially launched a rail link with Iran by sending a train across the border to Iran’s northern city of Astara thus taking an ambitious multimodal transport project that connects northern Europe to India closer to reality, Press TV reported at the time.

The train arrived in Iran simultaneously with a visit to the Islamic Republic by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev where he discussed the implementation of the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.  

Aliyev told reporters after meeting Rouhani that the NSTC was an important project, stressing that it could have positive effects on the economies of its host countries. 

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