TEHRAN (Press TV) - The head of the Iran-Iraq chamber of commerce Yahya Al-e Eshaq says between 6 billion to 7 billion dollars of Iranian funds are held in Iraq, but Tehran is not worried about their release.
Neighboring Iraq owes the money to Iran for importing gas and electricity, which has continued despite illegal U.S. sanctions, but Tehran has been unable to obtain its assets frozen in Iraqi banks under U.S. pressure.
"The volume of the blocked Iranian money and assets in Iraq is changing daily, where every day we see some parts of them released and the overall figure increase on the other hand because of the export of goods” by Iran, Al-e Eshaq said in remarks published Wednesday.
"Currently, the volume of the blocked assets in Iraq is between 6 and 7 billion dollars, but we do not have much worries about their release,” he added.
Iraqi banks have "a useful and acceptable cooperation with the Central Bank of Iran”, Al-e Eshaq explained, adding this cooperation has helped the Islamic Republic circumvent the sanctions and carry out transactions with Iraq.
Iraq has paid some of its debts over the years, but U.S. sanctions and economic troubles in the country have made the transfer of money much slower than Iran expected.
Iran’s Central Bank Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said in October that Baghdad had agreed to release frozen funds for the purchase of basic commodities.
Al-e Eshaq said Iran partly gets paid in cash, but it mostly receives goods from Iraq to cover the debt.
Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran, including food, agricultural products, home appliances, air conditioners and car parts.
It also relies on Iran for natural gas that generates as much as 45 percent of its electricity. Iran transmits another 1,200 megawatts directly, making itself an indispensable energy source for its Arab neighbor.
The U.S. is unhappy with close relationship and trade between Baghdad and Tehran, but it has had to repeatedly extend by 45, 90 or 120 days sanctions exemption to allow Baghdad to import Iranian energy.