Chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee, Safar Mehdiyev, and his Iranian counterpart, Alireza Moghadasi, have discussed the expansion of transit and customs cooperation between the two Caspian littoral states.
At a meeting in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province on May 11, Mehdiyev spoke about the need for joint management of the customs service on the borders between the two countries and noted that this would help boost trade and enhance cooperation.
He further said that the customs offices of the two countries are the “gates of friendship” between Iran and Azerbaijan. Mehdiyev also expressed Baku’s readiness to cooperate with Tehran on the simplification and acceleration of cargo transportation, Azerbaijan’s APA news agency’s Tehran bureau reported.
According to the official, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Russia can manage regional and international transit space, increasing transit and customs cooperation.
As part of the meeting, the sides also inked a bilateral cooperation agreement, which aims to increase trade between the two countries by simplifying procedures and eliminating problems related to transporting goods and passengers.
Iran’s Moghadasi told reporters that the expansion of trade cooperation with Azerbaijan is always in the focus of Iranian officials.
“To develop comprehensive cooperation with Azerbaijan, meetings are regularly held with the leadership of the customs authorities of this country. At the meetings, ways to remove existing barriers and develop bilateral ties are being discussed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s meeting also focused on the facilitation of customs control applied to vehicles passing through the territory of the two countries and the interaction for the rapid movement of cargo vehicles and others.
During the meeting, the sides also approved an action plan to expand cooperation and mutual assistance for 2022-2023.
The Memorandum of Understanding between Azerbaijan and Iran that provides for the establishment of new transport links between Azerbaijan's East Zangazur economic region and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic also came into the spotlight on Wednesday. Iranian and Azerbaijani officials discussed cooperation in resolving customs issues, taking measures to maintain comparative customs statistics on import and export transactions, opening new customs checkpoints, and improving infrastructure at existing checkpoints.
According to the memorandum, the two countries plan to establish a new railway, highway, communication, and energy supply lines connecting Azerbaijan’s East Zangazur economic region and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic through the territory of Iran. Four bridges will be built over the Araz River, including two motorways (with a pedestrian crossing) and two railway lines on them. Iran and Azerbaijan will also construct border checkpoints designed to allow a total of 1,000 trucks to pass daily. Proposals for financing the railway construction, which will run parallel to the highway, should be prepared within six months.
Earlier, it was decided to increase the number of border checkpoints between the two countries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the land border checkpoints between Iran and Azerbaijan are currently closed, with only cargo transportation allowed. Air transport was also suspended between the two countries during the pandemic, but later it was renewed.