The year 2013 registered high levels of commercial exchange between Iraq and Iran, which reached — according to both Iraqi and Iranian officials — more than $12 billion. This comes at a time when the Iraqi government aspires to increase trade between the two, with a goal of $15 billion.
In a telephone conversation with Al-Monitor, adviser to the Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdul Hussein al-Anbaki explains that the most common goods imported from Iran to Iraq are canned food — including canned cheese and dairy products — as well as soft drinks, meats, vegetable oil, household items and electrical appliances.
The Iraqi government hopes that this trade increase will strengthen Iraq’s role in ensuring stability in the region in light of the economic and political influence of Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s media advisor, Ali Musawi, told Al-Monitor that Iraq was striving to strengthen ties with all neighboring countries, without exception.
He noted that Iran has had an important weight in economic transactions with Iraq, notably since 2003, and pointed to the ease of commercial exchange between the two countries in terms of transportation and quality of goods, among other factors. Thus, according to Musawi, it is only normal for the two countries’ commercial exchanges to increase.
For his part, the head of the Commerce Department in the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, Mahmoud Bahzar, told Al-Monitor that Iran hopes to have $20 billion worth of commercial exchanges with Iraq by the end of 2017, saying, “According to our market observations, commercial exchange reached $10-13 billion by the end of November 2013.”