Armenia Presses For Free Trade with Iran

Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri meets with Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and six Armenian ministers, in Tehran on October 20, 2014 (Source: RFE/RL)
Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri meets with Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and six Armenian ministers, in Tehran on October 20, 2014 (Source: RFE/RL)

Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri meets with Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and six Armenian ministers, in Tehran on October 20, 2014 (Source: RFE/RL)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has accepted an Armenian proposal to explore the possibility of seeking a free trade agreement with Iran, a senior official in Yerevan revealed on Thursday.

Armenia and Iran have for years discussed ways of removing or at least reducing tariff barriers in bilateral trade. Armenia is no longer allowed to negotiate bilateral free-trade deals due to its membership in the EEU, effective from January 2015. It can enter into such arrangements only together with Russia and the three other ex-Soviet members of the bloc.

“About three months ago, we formally appealed to the Eurasian Economic Commission and all member states, proposing the start of a process of creating a more liberal trade regime between the EEU and Iran,” Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian told journalists. He linked the proposal with Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers envisaging a gradual lifting of international sanctions against Tehran.

Kocharian said that the EEU’s executive body and member states agreed to set up a task force that will weigh potential economic benefits and risks of free trade with the Islamic Republic. “Iran has always shown an interest in this matter,” he stressed.

Yerevan’s initiative is clearly motivated by a desire to facilitate Armenian manufacturers’ access to the vast Iranian market that has long been protected by very high import duties.

According to official statistics, Armenia’s trade with Iran stood at a relatively modest $291 million last year. Armenian imports of Iranian goods accounted for 70 percent of that figure.

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3 Comments

  1. Edward Demian said:

    Briliant move. Armenia needs to be that secure route between Russia and the Persian golf. That would make Armenia indispensable to both Iran and Russia.
    Russia needs a land bridge to Armenia in order to service the border with Turkey.
    Armenia need the Iranian market in order to prosper. We need that land bridge between us and the Russian Federation.
    The two ways north, are through Georgia or through Azerbaijan. Both ways involve the oil pipeline.
    Russia wants to control the pipeline from Azerbaijan to EU
    The Azerys are not going to sell, give or trade the pipeline with anyone.
    Solution is simple.
    Russia sells all the arms that Azerbaijan wants, hoping that they will feel strong enough to attack Armenia.
    Armenia thrashes Azerbaijan like before, or if Armenia falthers, Russia intervenes by treaty and Russia keeps the Armenian border, and gets to keep the pipeline.
    Armenia looses a lot of men, but keeps a lot of land. Azerbaijan is dismembered into its ethnic components, and Russia gets the oil. Iran intervenes on behalf of the Talish and other Iranian ethnic tribes in Azerbaijan. We’ll probably have a Muslim Aghvania.
    That’s what I predict.

    • Harutik said:

      Bravo, Edward. I hope President Putin is reading your comments. Official Yerevan has maneuvered Armenia to become a major trade hub for Russia and Iran, it’s only ally and reliable neighbor respectively. The only way Armenia will be able to realize its potential as a regional hub is if the Western-led Turkic/Islamic onslaught in the region is defeated by Russia and Iran. Let’s all pay Moscow and Tehran preserve in the coming years.

  2. Janapar said:

    I agree. The problem is how to end up with a neutral secular Muslim state and of course getting Russia to let go. The transition will be a dangerous time.

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