“The signing of the economic document was raised during the meeting with Iraq’s finance minister and was welcomed by him, and we hope to reach an agreement in the fields of customs investment, border markets and similar issues,” Shariatmadari said after the meeting in Baghdad on Sunday.
He said the document is expected to be signed during an upcoming visit of Iraq’s economy minister to Iran before the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.
“Broader economic issues, especially infrastructural issues and give-and-take economic opportunities, will be common areas of cooperation that both sides are optimistic about,” he added.
Shariatmadari also explained that the two sides are laying the groundwork for a system of preferential tariffs in order to establish a large joint market, which would also lead to the establishment of a wider market in other neighboring countries.
‘Iraq to pay its debt to Iran soon’
During the Sunday meeting, Iraqi Finance Minister Ali Abdul-Amir Allawi expressed hope that by signing a comprehensive agreement, bilateral economic and financial relations would be further expanded, and that the two sides would enjoy the benefits of such cooperation.
“Iran has good and valuable experiences in various fields, especially resource development and manpower training, and we welcome it for the growth, prosperity and progress of the Iraqi economy,” Allawi said.
He noted that Iraq welcomes Iran’s ideas in technical fields, the establishment of schools for skills training, handicrafts and cultural heritage.
Iraq has received rounds of exemptions from US sanctions on the Islamic Republic so that it can import gas and electricity from Iran.
However, the Arab country has so far paid a small part of its massive debt, citing banking sanctions imposed by the US as a major issue.
Iran has on several occasions urged Iraq to pay its debt. Back in December 2020, the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) announced it was cutting the flow of gas to Iraq because of around $6 billion in payment arrears.
Late last month, a spokesman of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity said Baghdad was looking for a restoration of nearly 28 million cubic meters (mcm) per day of lost gas supplies from Iran.
The spokesman, Ahmad al-Abadi, also said the two sides were reaching a solution on the issue so that supplies could return to previous levels before the start of the summer.