TEHRAN (Iran News) – Tehran-Baku Trade Overshadowed by Political Issues. Head of Iran- Azerbaijan Joint Chamber of Commerce Hossein Pirmoazen says the economic relations between Tehran and Baku has recently been affected by the political issues as Baku has stopped issuing visas for Iranian traders.
Speaking to ILNA on Wednesday, Pirmoazen said that during the joint economic commission of Iran and Azerbaijan four years ago, both countries signed a MoU on cooperation in auto making and one branch was inaugurated in Baku and the joint cooperation between the two states in this sector began but due to the political issues, Iran has had no exports of vehicles to Azerbaijan and the joint project has also been halted.
Talking on the latest development on Iran-Azerbaijan trade activities and the report on establishing a new custom office between the two countries, Pirmoazen said according to reports from Baku, this custom office has not been set up yet and it is just a decision for the future but on the whole custom is not the most important issue in the ties of Iran and Azerbaijan and the main and essential issue is the commitment of Baku to the signed MoU and approvals of the joint economic commission of the two countries. He stated both countries have MoUs but political issues have overshadowed those MoUs.
He said Iran and Azerbaijan have 720 kilometers of joint border and their trade relations are underway, and the volume of their non-oil trade and their trade balance is in good condition but lack of commitment of Azeris towards the MoUs is troublemaker.
Pirmoazen said last year in the last joint economic commission of the two countries it was decided Iran to give list of its reputed companies to Azerbaijan for reconstruction of Karabakh but despite delivering the list, Iran has been unable to enter Azerbaijan market for reconstruction of Karabakh due to the political issues.
He reiterated that economically there is no problem with Azerbaijan and the joint Iran-Azerbaijan chamber of commerce and the center for the entrepreneurs of Azerbaijan are doing their jobs well but they have problems in getting visas and holding meetings or participation in the exhibitions. He admitted that unfortunately in the past two years, physical presence or activities have faced problems.
Pirmoazen noted that Iran’s exports to Azerbaijan this year have increased by 65 percent comparing to the same period in the preceding year and have surpassed $80m, adding that every day 120 to 150 containers from Astara Custom Office enter Azerbaijan to be transited to Russia.
On the banking problem, he said no Iranian bank is active in Baku, adding that of course Bank Melli Iran is present in Baku but due to the U.S. sanctions its activities have been restricted and unfortunately Iranian traders face problems for opening banking accounts in Azerbaijan and they suffer much due to the banking problems.
Pirmoazen went on to say that traders are facing problem for transfer of forex and it is conducted through forex shops which cost dear and since the forex shops cannot provide the traders with forex, they provide traders with Iran’s national currency rial.
On the cooperation in the field of auto making and exports of cars to Baku, he said there has been no car exports to Baku due to political issues and the two countries have stopped their joint cooperation in the auto making sector.
Pirmoazen admitted that the chamber applied for visas for dispatch of a trade delegation to Baku but it was denied and it was the second time that Azerbaijan denied issuing visa.
Meanwhile according to reports, after a two-day meeting of the joint commission in Baku, Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, signed a memorandum of Understanding on road and transit communications development.
Increasing the number of traffic licenses for vehicles through 4 lanes, reducing some of the problems in this sector and the need for electronic communications are among the most important issues of this agreement.
Javad Hedayati, Director General of the Transit Office of the Roads and Transportation Organization of Iran said at the meeting: “Sustainable economic benefits are not in increasing customs duties, and the development of trade between the two countries can be fruitful for the economies of countries in the long run.”
Anar Rezaev, head of the National Transport Service Center of the Republic of Azerbaijan, said at the meeting, referring to the will of the two countries in developing cooperation: Our effort is to increase the level of bilateral transport cooperation and international transit, and the traffic statistics of the last 10 months of the year show that we have almost doubled compared to the same period last year.