Officials from ministries in Baghdad inspect Sartak-Pishta border crossing on December 5, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — After multiple delays in opening the Sartak-Pishta customs point in the Kurdistan Region between Iran and Iraq borders, an Iraqi federal government delegation said they soon expect "promising news" from Baghdad about its official status being upgraded to an international crossing.
"We saw coordination and eagerness of the Kurdistan Regional Government at the border crossings in terms of attempting to resolve the issues and removing the barriers for the sake of developments for businesses and adorning the border crossings," Shakir al-Jabouri, the head of communication and transportation of Iraq's Border Crossings Board, told reporters on the visit on Wednesday.
The delegation consisted of representatives from 10 ministries to learn what was done to the crossing after a three-month deadline.
He described work done to bring the Pishta crossing up to international standards as important in order to "serve the people of the Kurdistan Region in particular and Iraq in general."
He said their aim of the visit was to "activate the crossing in terms of infrastructure to further its development."
With the new Iraqi government, Jabouri said: "I am sure you will hear good news from Baghdad."
Hussein Ahmed, the head of Garmiyan Customs, said an estimated 200 vehicles use the crossing daily.
He also expressed confidence that the crossing will be made official by Baghdad.
Adil Mala Salih, the mayor of Bamo in the Kurdish province of Kermanshah in Iran, has said all measures to bring facilities up to international standards – including proper infrastructure like suitable roads, and water and electricity services – are complete.
According to the Garmiyan customs data, the Sartak-Pishta brings in an annual income of some 1.8 billion dinars ($1.5 million). That is expected to increase once the crossing is officially recognized.
Iraqi President Barham Salih and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani announced in November their intention to establish a free-trade zone on the border to boost overall trade from $12 billion to $20 billion.
The bulk of construction materials imported into the Kurdistan Region come across the border. It is one of several unofficial crossings in Kurdistan between the internationally-recognized Iran-Iraq borders.
Sartak-Pishta is located about 220km southeast of Erbil. The customs crossing was opened in 1991.