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Talks underway for free trade agreement between Iran and Lebanon

The New Arab | 10 April 2024

Talks underway for free trade agreement between Iran and Lebanon

by William Christou

Iran is seeking a free-trade agreement with Lebanon and to establish increased distribution of its goods in the Mediterranean country, Iranian state media reported on Saturday.

The Director General of the West Asia Office of the Iranian Trade Development Organisation, Abdul Amir Rabihawi, said that work is underway to expand the existing bilateral trade agreement into a free-trade agreement.

Lebanon and Iran signed a framework bilateral trade agreement in 1998, and the two countries enjoy close political and economic ties. In 2022, Iran exported a little over US$100 million in goods to Lebanon.

Rabihawi said that the efforts to strengthen trade relations with Lebanon comes amid an Iranian push for expanded commercial ties with countries in the Middle East. He added that Iran has 12 active commercial centers in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, the UAE and Qatar, and that trade negotiations are currently ongoing with Oman.

Lebanon’s ties with Iran are controversial among its population, with the Sunni and Christian sections of its population bristling at relations with Tehran. Iran is a close ally and funder of Hezbollah, which currently dominates Lebanon’s political scene.

In 2023, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian met with Lebanese FM Abdullah Bou Habib and said that the country was ready to expand cooperation with Lebanon.

In particular, Amirabdollahian said that Iran was ready to help Lebanon construct and operate its power plants. Lebanon has suffered from an electricity deficit since the beginning of its economic crisis in the fall of 2019, and its power plants periodically run out of fuel.

 source: The New Arab