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President Raisi Optimistic About Trade Growth with Venezuela, Envisions $20 Billion Volume

By Nigar Bayramli June 14, 2023

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The signing ceremony of 19 cooperation documents and memoranda of understanding between the two countries was held in the presence of the presidents of the two countries, and high-ranking officials, on June 13, 2023. / president.ir

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has expressed optimism regarding the growth of trade between Iran and Venezuela, stating that the trade volume can increase to $10 billion initially, and eventually reach $20 billion. 

These remarks were made during a joint press conference with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on June 13. 

While addressing media representatives, President Raisi highlighted the substantial rise in trade between the two nations, which surged from $600 million to over $3 billion between March 2022 and March 2023. He further emphasized that the signing of 19 cooperation documents in areas such as industry, mining, agriculture, energy, science, and technology exemplified the mutual desire to enhance bilateral relations.

“I hope that by implementing these documents, we will be able to take a big step in improving the level of relations between the two countries,” the Iranian president’s official website quoted Ebrahim Raisi as saying.

The signing ceremony, attended by the heads of state and other high-ranking officials, covered essential areas of collaboration such as communications and information technology, energy, insurance, maritime transport, higher education, agriculture, medicine, cultural exchanges, and mineral development.

During a meeting with Iranian and Venezuelan delegations, the president of Iran also noted that his nation “has accumulated valuable knowledge and achievements in science and technology by defying domination and overcoming sanctions, which can now be shared with Venezuela.”

President Maduro, in turn, expressed satisfaction with the revival of Iranian industrial companies, specifically tractor and automobile manufacturing, in Venezuela. He emphasized the commitment to achieving the $10 billion trade volume target and emphasized the importance of establishing a direct airline and strengthening shipping lines to facilitate trade between the two nations. Maduro also said that “the two countries have good capacities for cooperation in the fields of tourism, agriculture and animal husbandry.”

During his visit to Venezuela, Raisi toured the production line of two Iranian automobile manufacturers that have been reintroduced in the country after a significant hiatus. The products of “Ven-Iran Tractor Manufacturing” and “Saipa” were showcased in an exhibition. 

This visit marked Raisi’s first official trip to Latin America since assuming office in August 2021. Following his visit to Venezuela, he planned to visit Nicaragua and Cuba, which, like Venezuela, are subjected to US sanctions and have aligned themselves politically with Iran, Russia, and China in Latin America.

Notably, Iran has reportedly provided assistance in refurbishing some of Venezuela’s largest refineries, despite US sanctions imposed on Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA. In 2022, Iran sent four shipments comprising 8 million barrels of naphtha to Venezuela, playing a significant role in boosting the country’s oil production. Additionally, in January 2023, Iran delivered a tanker carrying 440,000 barrels of naphtha to Venezuela.

In June 2022, Iran and Venezuela signed a 20-year cooperation plan encompassing various sectors such as oil, petrochemicals, defense, agriculture, tourism, culture, refinery repairs, and the export of technical and engineering services. 

Previously, in May 2022, the state-owned National Iranian Petroleum Engineering and Construction Company inked a contract worth €110 million to undertake the restoration and reactivation of El Palito, Venezuela’s smallest refinery, capable of processing 146,000 barrels per day.