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Iran’s parliament approves bill to set up trade ministry

File photo shows lawmakers during an open session of the Iranian parliament.

The parliament in Iran has approved a government bill to set up a separate ministry for trade more than a decade after the country decided to integrate its commerce and industry activities in one government department.

In an open session on Sunday, members of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) approved a bill that had been submitted with two degrees of urgency to form the Ministry of Commerce.

Out of 238 votes cast in the session, some 129 lawmakers voted in the favor of the bill and another 101 voted against it while four lawmakers abstained.

Iran’s Ministry of Industries, Mine and Trade (MIMT) has been responsible for Iran’s trade ties with the rest of the world since 2011 when the country dissolved its former commerce ministry.

However, critics of the merger have argued over the years that the decision has led to many problems in Iran’s trade activities, especially with regards to imports of basic goods.

A lawmaker supporting the bill to set up the Ministry of Commerce said that Iran has been spending irregularly on certain imports due to lack of coordination between the MIMT and Iran’s ministry of agriculture which is responsible for imports of grains and animal feed.

“The fact that we pay $6.9 billion for imports from Turkey is the result of the absence of the commerce ministry,” said Fathollah Tavassoli, as he made a reference to Iran’s imports from Turkey in the calendar year to late March.  

However, critics of the bill said in the Saturday debate in Majlis that the formation of a separate ministry for trade would only lead to a major increase in Iran’s imports and would hardly help plans to boost exports from the country.

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