MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told reporters on Saturday that he and his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih had agreed to create a free trade zone.
“We have agreed to create a free trade zone between the two countries, which will enable us to launch joint ventures,” Rouhani said at a press conference held after the meeting, as broadcast by Press TV.
Rouhani added that while the Iranian-Iraqi trade currently amounted to around $12 billion, it could be raised to $20 billion in near future if both sides made an effort.
READ MORE: Iraq May Ask US to Stop Sanctioning State Over Ties With Iran — Foreign Ministry
Earlier in the day, Rouhani and Salih held a meeting in the Iranian capital of Tehran, during which they discussed bilateral cooperation and regional development.
In May, US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which triggered the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran, previously lifted under the agreement. Two rounds of sanctions have been reintroduced since then, with the large-scale restrictions covering oil exports being slapped on Iran on November 5. Eight oil-importing countries were granted formal waivers, while Iraq was granted a 45-day waiver for natural gas and electricity waivers on November 11.
According to Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran at the US State Department, the Iraqi government is cooperating with the United States on increasing Iraqi oil production and reducing Iranian influence.