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     In this April 4, 2015 file photo, Iranian and U.S. banknotes are on display at a currency exchange shop in downtown Tehran, Iran

    Iranian Lawmakers Approve Draft Bill on Free Trade with Eurasian Countries - Report

    © AP Photo / Vahid Salemi
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    The legislation, related to an agreement on a joint free trade zone in the context of Eurasian Economic Union, was approved by 174 votes in favor and 4 against, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported Sunday.

    According to Iranian lawmaker Ali-Akbar Karimi, cited by IRNA, the bill would stimulate cooperation with Eurasian nations and the entire world states that accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will serve as a prelude to joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    Karimi also stressed that the development of free trade zones would create jobs and attract foreign investments to the Islamic Republic, according to IRNA.

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    The EAEU in its current form was established in 2015. The organization provides for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, determined by the union’s treaty and international agreements. The member states include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

    According to union data the GDP of the entire bloc is currently about $1.9 trillion.

    Meanwhile, the reimposed US sanctions against Iran have affected the Iranian economy. According to media reports, inflation has spiked, the currency has plummeted, many goods are unavailable in local stores and imports are either very costly or unavailable.

    Moreover, the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) does not yet work in full scale.

    INSTEX creates a transaction channel to bypass US sanctions against Iran. It was designed in late January by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, who oppose unilateral US withdrawal from the accord, to help maintain trade interactions between Tehran and the remaining signatories of the JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal.

     

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    The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group of countries — China, Germany, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

    The accord was considered a major breakthrough until US President Donald Trump announced an abrupt pullout in May 2018 and slashed Iran with several rounds of sanctions, tightening the grip on the nation’s economy, finance, and other sectors.

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