A deputy minister has stated that Iran is sending building
materials to Syria under its “religious obligation” to rebuild the Arab country,
which has been seriously damaged by years of a foreign-orchestrated war.
Iran and Syria have had a free trade agreement signed back
in 2012 and most goods exchanged between the two major allies are exempt from
taxes and customs tariffs.
The Islamic Republic is under very strict sanctions imposed
by the US. Last December, American President Donald Trump signed the Caesar
Act, imposing sanctions on nearly all Syrian economic and trade activities, as
well as the country’s government officials.
Earlier this year, Damascus and Tehran agreed on a
comprehensive military-security deal that a senior aide to Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad hailed as the first move to overcome the sweeping US economic
“Rebuilding countries such as Syria and Iraq is a religious
duty,” said Hamid Zadboom, Iran's Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines, and
"Iran is ready for this reconstruction, and the
countries that need to rebuild, build roads and dams and receive services from
Iran, we have this potential and we are able to help," he remarked.
Zadboom also staed that the largest office of the Iranian
Chamber of Commerce will be opened in Damascus for the very first time, and
mining projects and assistance to the agricultural sector are underway in the
Iranian technical engineering companies in the field of
power plants, road construction and construction are currently present in Iraq,
Iraq is a significant trade partner of Iran in spite of US attempts
to drive away the Arab country from the Islamic Republic orbit.
Iraq imports 1200-1500 megawatts a day of electricity from
Iran, in addition to 38 million cubic meters of natural gas to power 40 percent
of its electricity generation.
Aside from natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a whole
range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances
as well as air conditioners.
The US has repeatedly extended the exemption for Baghdad to make
use of crucial Iranian energy supplies for its power grid, for periods of 90 or
120 days, with the latest one being granted back in April.
Zadboom said some 70 percent of Iran's non-oil exports are sent
to neighboring countries, and other than those countries, the focus has been on
both India and China.
China, Pakistan, Iraq, the UAE, Afghanistan, Turkey and
India are Iran's most significant trading partners.
“We have only one free trade agreement, and that is with
Syria, which is our first free trade agreement. Our second negotiations that
are coming to fruition are with Eurasia. We have also entered into free trade
negotiations with Pakistan,” Zadboom added.
Iran's major exports in terms of value are petrochemicals
and petroleum products, steel products, metals as well as building materials.
Previous to the Syria war, Tehran and Damascus had agreed on
important projects that were halted, most significantly a $10 billion natural
gas pipeline to take Iranian gas to Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria and from there all
the way to Europe through the Mediterranean.
Last year, the two countries agreed on a new deal to
fast-track the reconstruction of the Arab country.
Syrian Minister of Public Works and Housing Suhail Mohammad
Abdul Latif stated in Tehran in November 2019 that the main priority for
Damascus was to consign Syria’s rebuilding to friendly countries, foremost the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Our approach to rebuilding Syria is to prioritize Iranian
friends,” he commented.