Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi began a five-day tour of three South American countries on Monday, June 12, 2023. He first visited Venezuela and met President Nicolás Maduro and other top officials. The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen their countries' oil, gas, and trade cooperation.
Raisi stated, "Having common interests, views and enemies (USA) has deepened and strategic the cooperation between Iran and Venezuela…Iran and Venezuela have common interests and views in the fields of independence, freedom, and justice, which has brought the people of these two countries closer together".
President Raisi mentioned the significant increase in bilateral trade between the two countries, rising from $600 million in 2021-2022 to over $3 billion. He expressed his ambition to further enhance trade volume to $10 billion in the first step and $20 billion in the second. The President highlighted the signing of 19 cooperation documents in various fields, such as industry, mining, agriculture, energy, science, and technology, as a clear indication of both sides' determination to expand bilateral relations. He hoped implementing these documents would substantially advance the relations between the two countries.
Iran sees itself as an ascending global power with wide-ranging interests that transcend the Middle East. It adopts strategies to challenge the United States in its backyard, specifically in Latin America. In this context, Venezuela is a crucial strategic launching pad to advance Iran's objectives in this context.
The relationship between Iran and Venezuela has grown closer in recent years due to the sanctions imposed by the United States on both countries. In 2020, Iran sent a shipment of fuel oil to Venezuela to help the country overcome a severe gasoline shortage. Iran has provided technical expertise and support to Venezuela to help optimize its oil production and refinery capabilities.
This collaboration includes joint ventures, technology transfers, and investment in infrastructure development. Iran has also assisted Venezuela in maintaining its oil exports and finding alternative markets despite the sanctions.
Furthermore, both countries have explored various mechanisms to bypass the impact of sanctions. They have engaged in trade agreements involving exchanging goods and services, utilizing non-traditional payment systems to facilitate transactions. This includes barter arrangements, cryptocurrency initiatives, and financial mechanisms designed to circumvent the limitations imposed by international financial systems.