0136 GMT April 23, 2018
Iran said it expects the formalities over its membership to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) – a regional trade bloc led by Russia – would be finalized soon and an agreement with the Union’s member states would be signed accordingly, presstv.com reported.
Iran’s media quoted a trade official as saying that the agreement with the EEU would be signed by the presidents of all member countries.
Behrouz Hassanolfat, the director of Europe and Americas Department of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, was quoted by IRNA as saying that the Islamic Republic expected its membership to the Union to become effective from as early as February 2018.
The EEU is an economic union of former Soviet states including Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia and Russia which leads it. The Union is meant to guarantee free transit of goods, services, capital and workers among member states.
The bloc which began functioning on January 1, 2015, is being considered as a major economic force to challenge the might of the European Union and the US.
The EEU is a single market comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia that was set up in 2015.
The Union had already announced that it would sign a membership deal with Iran before the end of 2017.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Hassanolfat said Iran’s membership to the EEU would have numerous advantages for the country specifically given that it can significantly facilitate trade with the country’s northern neighbors.
The official added that countries which become members to the EEU would no longer have to pay certain tariffs and would also be provided with easier customs regulations to take their commodities across borders.
Hassanolfat added that Iran and the EEU had already agreed to facilitate trade on a certain list of goods, indicating that the list could later expand to all Iranian goods exported to the Union.
The EEU’s prime ministers resolved in March to make talks with Tehran a priority, scenting an opportunity to expand beyond the bloc’s combined market of 183 million people.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said last August that Moscow wanted Iran to join the EEU – a move that was seen as crucial in bringing the two countries closer in their plans to form a strategic partnership.
Putin emphasized that a research had already started overt the possibility of creating a free-trade zone between Iran and the EEU.
“Iran is Russia’s longtime partner. We believe that bilateral relations will benefit from the reduction of tensions around Iran following the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program,” Putin was quoted by the media as saying.