TEHRAN- The freight rate between Iran and Qatar has risen by three folds as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that caused a serious halt to the trade in West Asia, Press TV reported.
Adnan Mousapour, the head of Iran-Qatar Joint Chamber of Commerce, said on Saturday that the pandemic had caused a serious decline in the once-booming trade exchange between the two countries.
Trade between Iran and Qatar started to thrive when the Arab country came under a blockade by Saudi Arabia and allies in June 2017.
Iranian exporters have supplied various agricultural products as well as construction materials to Qatar, bringing in over $335 million in revenues over the past calendar year that ended March 19.
Iran’s imports from Qatar topped $30 million over the same period, said Mousapour who insisted that trade balance between the two countries could have further been in Iran’s favor if the pandemic had not caused a closure of shipping lines.
Mousapour said that the spread of the disease in Iran had also affected tourism activities between Iran and Qatar as well as a suitcase trade which normally accounts for a major share of exchanges between the two countries.
The businessman said that many Iranian companies have been facing payment settlement issues with Qatari partners because of the pandemic closures.
Qatar, a gas-producing giant, has been spared of a recent crisis in international oil markets where historically low prices have caused a major decline in revenues for oil-exporting nations.
The small country was among the fewest in the region that maintained its flights to Iran even at the height of the pandemic.
Reports in recent months have suggested that Iran and Qatar have plans to increase the size of joint investment projects, especially those in the energy sector.
in mid-April, Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian and Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari agreed on cooperation in energy and investment spheres between the two countries during a video conference.
As the next meeting of Iran-Qatar Joint Economic Committee, which was scheduled to be held in Iran’s Isfahan City in the first Iranian calendar month of Farvardin (March 20-April 19), was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the two ministers, who are the co-chairmen of the committee, discussed areas of bilateral cooperation through video conference.
The two sides also stressed that the meeting of the joint economic committee will be held as soon as the coronavirus pandemic ends and then seriously follow up the objectives of bilateral trade.
Meanwhile, they decided that until then both sides pursue the discussed issues through more video conferences.
In a joint press conference with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Tehran in January, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran has stood and will stand beside Qatar in the future.
“At a juncture of time, certain regional countries imposed restrictions on Qatar, but Iran stood beside Qatar and will stand based on its duties as a neighbor,” Rouhani added.
He said that the two countries have a very good relationship in various areas of economy, science, and culture.
For his part, the Qatari emir said that Doha will never forget Tehran’s help in difficult days.
“We praise the Islamic Republic of Iran’s stance in recent years, especially when Qatar was under blockade,” the emir said.
Sheikh Tamim also called for the expansion of relations.
As previously announced by the head of Industry, Mining, and Trade Department of Bushehr Province in southern Iran, the exports from the province to Qatar have increased by 37 percent in the previous Iranian year (ended March 19, 2020) compared to the year before it.
Hossein Hosseini said that in the period 830,000 tons of goods worth $157 million were exported to Qatar, which shows a 23 percent growth in weight. The cities of Dayer, Bushehr, and Buol Kheyr have had the main role in the export from Bushehr Province.
He said that the agricultural products exported to Qatar were valued at $95 million.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the vice-chairman of Iran-Qatar Joint Chamber of Commerce had said that the boom in trade between Tehran and Doha, especially in the areas of export and tourism, was in urgent need of activating the Grand Ferry on the Bushehr-Qatar route.
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