A significant part of Iran’s exports shipments sent to neighboring Iraq ends up in Syria, says a businessman as he hopes Iran can increase its formal trade ties with Syria now that the Arab country is emerging from almost a decade of terrorism and war.
Keyvan Kashefi, who chairs the Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday that some 8 percent of Iran’s exports to Iraq is rerouted to Syria mostly via the semi-autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan.
“People are very active in this case in the Kurdistan territory as they buy goods from Iran and send them to Syria,” said Kashefi.
The businessman estimated that Iran’s indirect exports to Syria over the calendar year to late March had reached $660 million as officially-declared exports from Iran to Iraq stood at $8 billion over the period.
That comes on top of around $120 million in direct Iranian exports to Syria in the year to March. Exports soared to nearly $50 million in the quarter to late June, up 73% against the same period in 2020, according to figures by the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran.
Iranian authorities hope exports to Syria could jump to over $1 billion in 2023 as the two countries plan to ease tariffs and other restrictions on trade.
Iran was a major supplier of goods and services to Syria before the Arab country slid into a massive war led by terrorist groups in March 2011. Government figures show exports from Iran to Syria had topped $500 million in the year before that.
Kashefi said Iran can easily rival China and Turkey in the Syrian import market if the government in Tehran removes bans on exports of certain goods.
He said closure of land routes to Syria through Iraq means that Iranian export shipments should travel 25-30 days through a shipping line between Iran’s Bandar Abbas and Syria’s Latakia to reach customers in the Arab country.