Iranian Energy Minister visits Iraq to discuss trade issues
Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian visited Iraq on Tuesday to meet with senior officials from the country and discuss various issues including energy exports, economic relations and Iraq’s energy debts to Iran.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Ardakanian arrived in Baghdad Tuesday morning after which he met with Iraqi Electricity Minister Majid Mahdi Hantush to discuss electricity exports and cooperation between the two countries in power sectors.
Ardakanian, who is also the chair of the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee, later met with Iraqi Trade Minister Alaa Al-Jabouri to explore avenues of trade relations and cooperation in the economic and commerce fields.
The Iranian delegation also discussed holding a meeting of the two countries’ Joint Economic Committee in near future.
The Iranian minister further visited Iraq’s Central Bank to hold talks with the bank’s Governor Mustafa Ghaleb.
In this meeting, the officials discussed bilateral monetary relations and cooperation in the fields of banking and finance.
Settling Iraq's energy debts to Iran and establishing a payment mechanism to this end were other major issues discussed in this meeting.
Iraq owes more than $5 billion to Iran for gas imports, of which $3 billion is blocked and inaccessible in the [state-owned] Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI). The country also owes over $1 billion for electricity imports from Iran.
Iran has recently reduced its natural gas exports to Iraq and threatened further reductions due to the Arab country’s failure to pay the mentioned dues. Gas exports to the Arab neighbor have been slashed to five million cubic meters (mcm) from 50 mcm.
The Islamic Republic has threatened to further cut the gas supply to three million cubic meters a day, and this has increased the likelihood of more electricity shortages in Baghdad and other major cities.
Iran has been exporting gas to Iraq under two supply agreement signed in 2013 and 2015.