A new checkpoint named “Kapikoy” between Turkey and Iran has opened up in the Turkish eastern province of Van.
“This checkpoint will play a significant role in the development of tourism and trade of the region. Van will produce goods and sell them,” Turkey’s former Deputy Minister of Customs and Trade Fatih Chiftchi said, according to recent reports by Sabah. “Van had been underdeveloped province, but from now on, it will be Turkey’s gate for Iran and the Middle East.”
Chiftchi said that the construction of the checkpoint began in 2017 has cost 100 million Turkish lira (less than $19 million), adding that, “Van’s 50-year dream became true.”
There are already 12 land border crossings in eastern Turkey, where the country shares borders with Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Four are on the border with Iraq, three with Georgia, one with Azerbaijan and another with Armenia that remains shut due to political differences. Three others are along the 499 km (310 mi) border with Iran.
At the fifth meeting of the High Council for Iran-Turkey Strategic Cooperation, held in Ankara in December and chaired by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two sides agreed to move the trade goalpost from $11 billion – at which bilateral trade currently stands – to $30 billion. The two sides are hoping that the opening of a fourth land border crossing can facilitate that.
From the start of the Iranian calendar last year (March 21, 2018) through December 21, the two countries experienced a 30 percent growth in the trade volume of non-oil goods compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the latest data released by Iran’s Customs Administration. While the nearly seven million tons of goods tumbled in value by 6.6 percent compared to the year before, prospects for long-term gains remain strong, given Turkey’s demand for energy and mineral resources and Iran’s overall lack of access to international markets due to sanctions. Iran mainly exported liquefied natural gas, non-alloy zinc, aluminum and bitumen to Turkey during the nine months recorded. Turkey, for its part, exported over 900,000 tons of cooking bananas, tobacco, fibers, cotton and automobile parts.
On the sidelines of a tripartite summit held in Sochi, Russia on February 14, Rouhani told Erdogan that cooperation between the two countries is very good, adding that, “deepening banking transactions is prerequisite to development of these ties.”
Rouhani is not only concerned about Iran’s access to global credit, but hopes that agreements related to the energy, industry and transportation sectors will soon be struck.
“It is essential that the authorities of the joint commission of cooperation accelerate the process of implementing these agreements," he said, according to his official website.
For his turn, Erdogan said that Turkey is ready to join the Special Purpose Vehicle established by the European Union, which will help facilitate international trade with Iran, “and create a similar bilateral mechanism for trade cooperation with Iran.”
“Multilateral cooperation with Iran on different issues has had positive achievements and Turkey is ready to expand this cooperation to other countries in the region," the Turkish president added.