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Syria, Iraq Reportedly Impose Restrictions On Iranian Imports

Trucks are seen at Haj Omran border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan, October 14, 2017
Trucks are seen at Haj Omran border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan, October 14, 2017

While the Supreme Leader of Islamic Republic has triumphantly declared victory over the Islamic State group in Syria, Damascus has put restrictions on imports from Iran, the deputy head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, ICCIMA., announced.

Furthermore, Iraq has also quintupled tariffs for Iranian dairy products, from 5% to 25% overnight.

State run Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA cited Hassan Selah Varzi Friday, November 24, as saying, “The restrictions Syria has imposed on Iranian imports has practically has put a halt to exports from Iran to Syria”.

Selah Varzi explained, “The Syrian market is full of contraband goods smuggled from Turkey and Syrians long to buy them”.

However, Selah Varzi stopped short of providing details on the restrictions.

According to the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, the volume of Tehran’s [non-oil and petrochemical] exports to Syria, prior to the civil war, was $350 million per year which has currently dropped to $250 million.

Lacking a common land border with Syria is one of the main problems for Iranians for exporting their goods to the country, while Turkey can easily reach the Syrian market through its common border with the country.

Other problems facing Iranian exporters to Syria, according to ICCIMA officials are complicated customs regulations and extreme bureaucracy.

In recent years, the Islamic Republic has significantly backed Syria with financial assistance, including a one billion-dollar credit line and $3.6 billion for importing goods.

Moreover, Reuters and other international news agencies have reported that since 2013 the Central Bank of Iran has granted Syria several credit lines including $5.6 billion mainly for importing oil from Iran.

In 2015, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a law ratifying a $1 billion credit line from its top regional ally Iran, Syria’s state news agency SANA said, funds which will could help ease economic strains from the costly war.

The agreement was between two state-owned banks, the Syrian Commercial Bank and the Export Development Bank of Iran. Syria signed a previous $3.6 billion credit line with Iran in July 2013 which was used up mostly for oil imports, Reuters reported at the time.

However, many analysts believe that Iran’s financial assistance for Bashar al-Assad is much higher than what is publicly admitted.

Meanwhile, Iran and Syria have several agreements on joint plans for developing oil and energy industries.

In 2015, in a report based on research and professional estimations, Bloomberg reported that the Islamic Republic spends at least one billion-dollar per year to help Bashar al-Assad.

In the meantime, ICCIMA deputy has complained about significant increase of Iraqi tariffs for Iranian products.

“Overnight, Iraq has increased from 5% to 25% its tariff for Iranian dairy”.

According to Selah Varzi, 75% of Iranian exports to Iraq are dairy products and the higher tariff is catastrophic for the Iranian dairy industry, possibly leading to the bankruptcy of many dairy producers.

Last year, Iran with $6.2 billion exports was the third largest exporter to Iraq after China an United Arab Emirates, respectively.