Iraq reopens border crossing with neighboring Iran

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By Salam Abdulshamari

Azzaman, January 26, 2014

In a sign of increasing trade exchanges, Iraq and Iran have reopened a new border crossing at the Kurdish city of Mandali in the Province of Diyala.

The crossing was active some 30 years ago and was one of the oldest routes for the exchange of trade and passengers between the countries.

But it was closed at the start of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war and has remained shut since.

“The decision by the federal government (in Baghdad) to reopen the crossing is a step in the right direction. It will secure more than 1500 new jobs for the town of Mandali,” said Azad Shafi, head of Mandali’s municipal council.

Iran has emerged as Iraq’s top trading partner. It has numerous border crossings with Iraq along a boundary that runs for 1,458 kilometers from the head of the Gulf to Turkey.

Six Iraqi provinces border Iran and some of these have more than one border crossing with the country’s eastern neighbor.

“Unemployment rates are as high as 20 percent in Mandali and adjacent areas. The opening of the crossing will certainly lead to economic prosperity and boost exchange of goods,” said Shafi.

He said the Mandali crossing was going to assume “added commercial and economic significance” as it is the closet to Baghdad with which it is linked by a good highway.

Shafi predicted a flurry of trade activity originating in the Province of Diyala, north of Baghdad.

Last year volume of trade exchange between the countries, according to official statistics, was estimated at more than $13 billion and is expected to exceed $15 billion this year.

The statistics did not include the Kurdish region whose volume of trade exchanges with Iran was estimated at more than $4 billion last year.