April 25 (UPI) — After hinting at a possible free-trade agreement between the two oil-rich countries, a Russian delegation said it was in Iran to explore the future for imports.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an interim agreement this week to set up a free trade agreement between Iran and members of the Eurasian Economic Union, the EAEU. Medvedev said the trade bloc of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia could offer tariff concessions to Iran through the arrangement.
Both countries are facing economic isolation because of Western-backed sanctions.
On Wednesday, a delegation from Russia arrived in the Iranian province of Bushehr to move the discussion on trade forward.
“With the quality of the goods in Bushehr, we hope to have imports to Russia from the province,” the head of the Russian delegation Vladimir Kaziev was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
As a result of improved opportunities, annual trade between the two counties is on pace to pass $10 billion. Iran and Russia are close nuclear partners, with the latter providing fuel for the former’s Bushehr nuclear plant.
The meeting followed talks in Washington between U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. European leaders are eager to keep Washington in an agreement that gives Iran sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear commitments. Trump is widely expected to renege on the deal in May, but hinted that some sort of new arrangement was possible.
Speaking Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said if the U.N.-backed nuclear agreement was as bad as Trump says, it should not have been signed in the first place.
“You are a businessman and don’t know anything about law,” he said of the U.S. president.
Dismantling the deal would throttle the estimated 1 million barrels per day of Iranian oil flowing in the market and likely cause oil prices to climb even further. Oil prices were inching lower in early Wednesday trading.