Iranian customs administration (IRICA) says the country’s main land border crossing to the Central Asia region located on the northern border with Turkmenistan will reopen on October 14 after 20 months of closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.
IRICA spokesman Rouhollah Latifi said on Wednesday that Iranian businesses will be allowed to resume trade and transit through Incheborun crossing as of Thursday.
The Incheborun checkpoint was closed in February 2020 in the early days of the spread of the coronavirus in Iran.
Turkmenistan has allowed travel to resume through two other land crossings located to the east of the border with Iran while another checkpoint has yet to be reopened.
Iranian rail freight has been able to pass through Inceborun, Sarakhs and Lotfabad borders in the mean time.
However, reopening Incheborun is expected to significantly boost Iranian exports to the landlocked countries in Central Asia region.
Local IRICA officials said trade through the Incheborun gateway would cut costs for businesses and exporters by 20%.
Latifi said that Iranian cargoes passing through Incheborun will be reloaded to trucks from Turkmenistan for delivery to their final destinations after being processed in the country’s customs offices.
Iran had extensive plans to increase exports to Central Asia before the coronavirus hit trade in the region nearly two years ago.
Those plans were part of Iran’s drive to diversify its economy away from crude by encouraging more activity in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
Increased non-crude exports have helped Iran better cope with the economic impacts of US sanctions on its sales of crude as the country uses the proceeds to finance imports of basic goods as well as the modern machinery needed across its manufacturing sector.
Latest IRICA figures show that non-oil exports from Iran had reached nearly $22 billion in the six months to late September, an increase of over 60% compared to the similar period last year.