May 17, 2018 13:59 Asia/Tehran
  • Iran signs provisional pact to enter Eurasian free-trade zone

The five-nation Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has signed a 3-year provisional agreement with Iran to welcome the Islamic Republic into the bloc’s free-trade zone.

The chair of EEU economic commission board, Tigran Sargsyan, speaking at a special  ceremony in Astana, Kazakhstan on Thursday, said:  "The temporary agreement stipulates an effective dispute settlement mechanism, including arbitration… It also creates a joint committee of high-ranking officials and establishes a business dialogue."

The arrangement is the first step in implementing free trade between Iran and the five members of the union, which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

Sargsyan said:  "Our negotiators have already set a long-haul objective for the next three years to agree a full-fledged accord on a free trade zone."

Earlier on Wednesday, the head of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Iranian parliament, Reza Pour Ebrahimi , said: "Tehran intends to boost economic ties with Moscow and the prospect of the return of US sanctions will only serve to strengthen them.  Not only will the previous agreements remain in force, but, there will be new ones, there will be new contracts."

After the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, Washington said it would give European companies six months to wind up their investments in Tehran or risk US sanctions.  They are also forbidden from signing any new contracts with Iran. Russia said it will remain committed to the nuclear deal, describing the US actions against Iran as “veiled protectionism.”

The EEU was established in 2015 based on the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, and was later joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.