LEGAL UPDATE: August 2023
In a landmark decision that promises to reshape the geopolitical landscape, the BRICS association of emerging economies has extended membership invitations to six new countries, including Iran. This expansion, the first in over a decade, is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, and could significantly amplify the bloc's influence, particularly in the Middle East.
The inclusion of Iran is especially noteworthy, as it marks a strategic move to bolster the bloc's reach and influence in a region that is a focal point of global geopolitics. Iran's membership could serve as a conduit for BRICS to engage more deeply with Middle Eastern affairs, thereby expanding its geopolitical footprint.
The expansion has been hailed as "historic," signaling a renewed determination to unite and cooperate with developing nations. This move is expected to inject new vitality into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen its role in fostering world peace and development.
The decision to admit new members was reached by consensus among the current BRICS nations, emphasizing the bloc's collective vision for a more inclusive global influence. The expansion is seen as a testament to the group's growing importance as a channel for strengthening economic cooperation with countries of the Global South.
The inclusion of new members is also expected to have economic ramifications. For instance, one of the new invitees has already pledged to continue its role as a "secure and reliable energy provider," a commitment that could have far-reaching implications for global energy markets. Bilateral trade between this country and the existing BRICS nations already exceeded $160 billion in the previous year, highlighting the economic potential of the expanded bloc.
In a bid to amplify their economic cooperation, Iran and Iraq have embarked on a series of high-profile meetings this August, resulting in robust decisions poised to shape the future of both nations.
The Iranian Agriculture Minister, Mohammad-Ali Nikbakht, met with his Iraqi counterpart Abbas Al-Maliki to discuss and approve the creation of a mutual agricultural calendar. This initiative aims to solidify trade relations and tackle potential future food supply issues that the region might face by 2050 due to climatic changes and the depletion of resources. With both nations having complementary agricultural needs and capabilities, such collaboration seeks to leverage shared knowledge, technology, and trade avenues. Minister Nikbakht emphasized the significance of upholding health and safety standards in this partnership, drawing attention to the looming threats posed by global food scarcity. Echoing his sentiments, Al-Maliki shed light on the invaluable support Iran extended to Iraq during its ordeal with ISIS, and how the bond between the two nations can be a beacon during challenging economic times.
In a subsequent meeting, Iranian Finance and Economic Affairs Minister, Ehsan Khandouzi, conferred with the advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, focusing on furthering economic ties. They discussed the establishment of joint industrial zones, a step to fortify their economic relations, especially given the positive political dynamics they've nurtured recently. Among the primary projects broached during their conversation was the Shalamcheh-Basra railway. The adviser to Iraq's Prime Minister announced the removal of all obstacles hampering this project and confirmed that necessary machinery and equipment are now in place, signaling the railway's imminent operationalization. Moreover, the establishment of joint industrial parks and free trade zones between Iran and Iraq is on the anvil, with both nations keen on expediting these initiatives.
By intertwining their economies through these strategic decisions, Iran and Iraq hope to build resilience against global challenges and fortify a partnership rooted in shared political, historical, religious, and cultural ties. The interconnected future these two countries envision showcases the potential strength that arises from regional cooperation.
In August 2023, Iran experienced a series of noteworthy economic advancements. This article outlines the numerous strides the nation has taken across diverse sectors.
Gholamreza Miri, the chairman of Iranian Saffron Exporters and Sellers Union, reported a remarkable 70% year-on-year rise in saffron export values during the first four months of the current Iranian year (March 21-July 22). The country exported 13.6 tons of saffron, marking a 63% increase in value compared to the previous year for the same timeframe. Given that Iran accounts for a significant portion of the global saffron production, with over 90% being exported, these numbers signify its strengthening grip on the international saffron market.
Mehrdad Hamdollahi, an official with the Iran Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization (RMTO), revealed that 5.6 million tons of basic commodities were transported from major Iranian ports during the said four months. This data showcases the efficiency and capability of Iran's port logistics.
From March 21 to July 22, Iran's non-oil trade recorded a value of $35.445 billion. The country exported 45.758 million tons of goods worth $15.906 billion, registering a 28.56% increase in terms of weight. On the import side, goods valued at $19.539 billion, totaling 11.842 million tons, were imported, marking a 10.82% growth in value year-on-year. China, Iraq, UAE, Turkey, and India were the top destinations for Iran's exports, with liquefied natural gas, liquid propane, liquid butane, bitumen, and methanol being the primary commodities. Conversely, the major countries exporting to Iran were the UAE, China, Turkey, India, and Germany, with corn, smartphones, soybeans, sunflower seed oil, and rice being the chief imports.
Hojatollah Abdolmaleki, Secretary of Iran’s Free Zones High Council, noted a doubling of investments in the country's free trade and special economic zones during the current government's tenure. This surge stems from initiatives like the investment packages, which streamline the investment process by providing feasibility studies and the necessary permits. So far, 528 investment packages, valued at around 5.5 billion euros, have been registered. Abdolmaleki emphasized the attractive profitability and cost-efficiency of operating within these zones, highlighting their potential for both domestic and foreign investors.
In a monumental gesture indicating the thawing of relations between two Middle Eastern powers, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian convened for an in-depth discussion in Jeddah. The dialogue, lasting 90 minutes, was described as "frank and fruitful" by the participants.
Since the rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran was mended after years of diplomatic coldness, this significant encounter has been deemed the most consequential. The entire conversation transpired privately, attesting to its confidential nature.
Minister Abdollahian, in his remarks on social media platform X, highlighted the constructive and forthright nature of the discourse. Emphasizing the newfound consensus on regional security and development, he voiced Iran's dedication to bolstering connections with its regional counterparts, primarily Saudi Arabia. As he noted, through mutual cooperation across diverse spheres – political, economic, commercial, transit, scientific and technological, and cultural – both nations have the potential to infuse the region with unparalleled growth and prosperity.
In a landmark decision that promises to reshape the geopolitical landscape, the BRICS association of emerging economies has extended membership invitations to six new countries, including Iran. This expansion, the first in over a decade, is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, and could significantly amplify the bloc’s influence, particularly in the Middle East.