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Iran to sign free trade deal with Syria in November: TPO chief

Iran’s trade minister will travel to Syria in late November to sign a free trade deal with the country.

Iran and Syria will sign a free trade agreement in late November, according to the Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) of Iran, amid Tehran’s plans to rely more on revenues derived from exports with a focus on neighbors and allied countries.

TPO chief Alireza Payman Pak said on Monday that the free trade deal between Iran and Syria will be finalized during a trip by Iranian trade minister to Syrian capital Damascus on November 29.

Payman Pak said Iran will also implement a free trade deal with Pakistan as well as two preferential trade agreements with Indonesia and Venezuela in the near future.

The announcement is a fresh sign Iran is intent on expanding its non-crude exports to offset losses suffered on crude sales in recent years mainly because of US sanctions.

Exports to Syria currently account for a small portion of Iran’s total exports although authorities have repeatedly said that they have plans to increase the shipments.

Among the plans is setting up a direct shipping line between Iran’s southern port of Bnadar Abbas and Syria’s Mediterranean port of Latakia.

Iranian exports to Syria fell massively in 2010 when a terrorist-led war erupted in the Arab country.

Estimates by the TPO show that exports to Syria could reach over $300 million in the calendar year to March.

Trade between Iran and Syria is expected to hit a target of $1.5 billion in 2023 amid growing economic and political ties between the two countries.

Iran has been a major contributor to Syria’s reconstruction efforts in recent years as the country struggles to emerge from the ruins of a war that devastated the its economic infrastructure.   

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