Economic Cooperation among Persian Gulf States Expand

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Ties across the Persian Gulf reflect political and economic rivalries, deep ethnic and family linkages, significant investment and trade relations and, in particular, the reality of shared maritime boundaries.

Iran traded 8.84 million tons of goods worth $5.14 billion with six Persian Gulf littoral states, namely Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, during the first two months of the current fiscal year (March 21-May 21), latest data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration show.

The UAE was Iran’s top trade partner among the Persian Gulf states under review with 3.8 million tons worth $3.75 billion. It was followed by Iraq with 4.15 million tons worth $1.34 billion and Kuwait with 754,172 tons worth $27.1 million.

Iran’s exports totaled 7.19 million tons worth $2.86 billion.

The main export destination, the UAE, with 2.16 million tons worth $1.5 billion was followed by Iraq with 4.13 million tons worth $1.31 billion, Kuwait with 753,371 tons worth $25.35 million and Qatar with 143,444 tons worth $15.59 million and Bahrain with 1,233 tons worth $1.04 million.

Imports stood at 1.65 million tons worth $2.29 billion.

The UAE topped the list of exporters to Iran among the Persian Gulf states with 1.64 million tons worth $2.25 billion. It was followed by Iraq with 16,768 tons worth $27.98 million, Qatar with 183,569 tons worth $11.47 million, Kuwait with 801 tons worth $1.73 million and Bahrain with 9 tons worth $387,475.

Iran traded 60.87 million tons of goods worth $31.9 billion with Persian Gulf littoral states in the fiscal 2021-22, up from $22.36 billion in the year before. Exports totaled 45.43 million tons worth $14.15 billion while imports stood at 15.43 million tons worth $17.76 billion.

Also, Iran plans to cooperate with Qatar in preparation for the World Cup 2022.

Bilateral arrangements include launching regular shipping lines between the ports of the two countries and making more use of Qatari commercial airlines along with Iranian airlines during the World Cup.

“Kish is the focal point of these arrangements, although other coastal and non-coastal provinces in Hormozgan and Bushehr provinces close to the Persian Gulf can also play a role in supporting the event,” Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Rostam Qasemi said in a recent meeting with his Qatari counterpart on the resort island.

Iran’s cooperation with Qatar on World Cup 2022 was initiated in February 2021 when Kish Free Zone Organization allocated 520 billion rials ($1.8 million) to equip and develop the infrastructures of Kish Island.

Kish officials are hoping to attract spectators willing to visit nearby tourist locations during the intervals of their favorite matches.

“We have increased the number of five-star hotels on Kish Island from 10 to 15, launched two football fields and two bodybuilding complexes and upgraded three football pitches,” Saeed Mohammad, secretary of the Supreme Council of Free Trade and Special Economic Zones of Iran, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

To make preparations for the big event, Mohammad noted that the ministries of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism; Roads and Urban Development; Sports and Youth Affairs; and Economic Affairs and Finance, in addition to the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, have joined forces.

With an area of 92 square kilometers and a population of 42,000, Kish Island is located in Bandar Lengeh County of Hormozgan Province, off the southern coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf. It has been declared the fourth tourist destination in Southwest Asia by the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.

Kish Island is among the most beautiful coral islands in the Persian Gulf. The distance between Kish Island and Qatar is 270 km. Kish to Doha flight takes 40 minutes while the sea journey takes 5 to 6 hours.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup competition, contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Qatar from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18, 2022.

This will be the first World Cup ever to be held in the Middle East and the second World Cup held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament was held in South Korea and Japan.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited Doha, Qatar, in March to meet Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and attended a summit meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum.

Iran and Qatar have been forging stronger economic ties ever since a number of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Doha in June 2017 and imposed a blockade on the Persian Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups.

The Qatari government denied the allegation as baseless, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.

Following the development, Iranian exporters have vied for the Qatari market in the absence of Doha’s traditional Arab partners.

Qatar shares the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran.

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