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Iran-Afghan trade comes to full halt because of surging violence: Businessman

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows trucks passing through a border crossing on the Iran-Afghan border in eastern Iran.

An Iranian businessman says trade with Afghanistan has fully stopped amid rising tensions in the neighboring country.

Hossein Salimi, who chairs the Iran-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Tuesday that even Afghan traders had stopped processing Iranian export cargoes destined for Afghanistan because of surging violence in Afghan cities and towns.

Trade with Afghanistan accounts for a considerable part of Iran’s export revenues with monthly purchases by customers in the country normally reaching over a quarter of a billion US dollars.

However, exports started to decline last month after fighting intensified between the Taliban and government forces in various regions.   

Salimi told the semi-official ILNA news agency that air strikes carried out by the United States in recent days had complicated the security situation in Afghanistan and led to full closure of border crossings from Iran.

He said that local middlemen who had been taking risk of delivering Iranian cargoes to Afghan customers had stopped operating because of increased fighting.

The businessman said it would take at least 10 days before the two countries can resume limited trade through their border crossings.

Figures by Iran’s customs office IRICA published on Monday showed that exports to Afghanistan had reached $258 million in value terms in the calendar month to July 22.

The figures showed that Iranian monthly exports to Afghanistan had increased by nearly 20% year on year in late July and just before violence began to intensify in the country.

That comes as an IRICA spokesman on Tuesday denied reports about a full closure of border crossings on the Iran-Afghan borders, saying trade was flowing normally between the two countries.  

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