Armenia’s trade with neighboring Iran will increase following the lifting of international economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielian said on Wednesday.
Gabrielian said that the governments and business communities of the two nations are already exploring new economic opportunities resulting from last year’s landmark international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
“We have more activity in that direction right now,” he told reporters. “But we are still in the initial stage of that work. I can’t cite agreements, but there are many Iranian businesspeople visiting Armenia and a large number of our businesspeople have gone there.”
Gabrielian noted in that regard that a large delegation of Armenian entrepreneurs visited Tehran late last year on a trip organized by the Armenian Ministry of Economy. He would not say which specific goods or commodities could boost Armenian-Iranian trade.
According to Armenia’s National Statistical Service (NSS), the total volume of that trade fell by over 5 percent to $250 million in January-November 2015. The figure was equivalent to less than 6 percent of Armenia’s overall foreign trade.
Separate data from the Armenian customs service shows that Armenian imports of Iranian natural gas and exports of Armenian electricity to Iran account for the bulk of bilateral commercial exchange.
The electricity exports should rise dramatically after Armenia and Iran construct a third and more powerful transmission line connecting their power grids. Iran pays for them with gas supplies, meaning that they too will soar as a result.
The Armenian and Iranian governments signed a final agreement on building the high-voltage line in August, one month after Iran reached the nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers. Its construction is due to be completed by 2018.
Armenian officials also hope that the sanctions relief will enable Tehran to finance the planned construction of a large hydroelectric plant on the Armenian-Iranian border.
Armenian Transport Minister Gagik Beglarian visited Iran and met with its First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri last week for talks that reportedly touched upon the transit of Iranian goods through Armenian territory. In a weekend phone call with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the two states should “spare no effort in connecting the Persian Gulf and [Georgian] Black Sea ports.”