The Islamic Republic of Iran’s growing trade with member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is combined with both opportunities and challenges, which should be reviewed in terms of management and expertise.
The EAEU is an economic bloc of countries located in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Central Asia. The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union was inked on May 29, 2014, by high-ranking officials from Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on January 1, 2015, IRNA reported.
The union and Iran signed a three-year agreement in October 2019 in a bid to strengthen regional convergence and facilitate trade between the two sides.
The member states (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia) are comprised of 190 million people, with a GDP of $2.7 trillion. Their trade with other countries stands at about $900 billion.
According to the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), the trade volume between the EAEU member states and Iran stood at $3.4 billion in the last Iranian year (ending March 20, 2021).
Gilan Province in northern Iran has played an important role in trading with the Central Asian states and is considered one of the most important connecting routes with the markets of those states.
Following the completion of the remaining parts of the Rasht-Caspian railroad, Gilan Province can turn into a gateway to the eastern European markets.
Need for reforming tariffs, export commodities
Supervisor of Gilan Customs Administration Abolqassem Yousefinejad told IRNA that the cooperation between the EAEU and Iran is one of the important opportunities to expand regional collaboration.
Iran’s exports do not have many goods, he complained, noting that the shipments consist of raw materials, as well as industrial and agricultural products, which are not of a high added value.
He also called for attaching importance to resolving problems that merchants are facing, when it comes to trade with the EAEU member states.
Tariff reforms and the value of export commodities are among the significant issues which need particular attention, the official added.
Yousefinejad went on to say that Iran should reconsider its customs duty exemptions because the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union are deprived of enjoying such exemptions.
The Islamic Republic should utilize a combined transport system by using shipping lines, railroads and other routes in order to reduce the cost of exports and imports, he said.
Special opportunity for Iran
Chairman of Gilan Chamber of Commerce Hadi Tiz’hoosh-Taban said that official figures show that the good opportunity for trade with the EAEU has not been properly utilized.
Tiz’hoosh-Taban noted that part of the problem comes from lack of appropriate infrastructure, especially in the transport system as well as issues relating to tariffs.
Iran’s free trade zones have inappropriate connections, and the issue affects the capability of the country at the national and international level, he said, adding that the free trade zones are expected to upgrade export and import capacities.
Iran-EAEU trade challenges