Leaders of Turkey and Iran have agreed to promote trade, investment and business ties while jointly addressing terror and sectarian conflicts in their region.
"Unfortunately, relations between Turkey and Iran have backslided in recent years," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a joint news conference with his visiting Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, in Ankara on Saturday.
He lamented that the trade volume, once made a peak to about 22 billion U.S. dollars, has come down to 10 billion U.S. dollars.
The trade volume between the two countries posted a record figure of 21.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, but steadily declined to 9.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, a drop of 55 percent in three years.
In January-February period this year, the latest available data from Turkish government's statistical agency, the trade volume dropped further to 1.3 billion U.S. dollars from 1.9 billion U.S. dollars in the same period last year.
Iranian President Rouhani blamed western and international sanctions on his country for the decline in its trade volume, saying that Tehran is keen to boost economic ties with its neighbor Turkey now that sanctions are over.
He called on Turkish banks to open branches in Tehran to further promote trade and business. He also underlined that the two countries have agreed to improve customs to eliminate trade hindrances.
Rouhani's official visit was part of the third meeting of the intergovernmental conference, dubbed under the name of High-Level Cooperation Council, which was set up in January 2014 to recover the lost trade and improve business ties.
The second such meeting was held in Tehran on April 2015.
Arif Keskin, an expert on Iran, said Rouhani considers closer economic ties with Turkey will help improve Iranian economy and the status of Iranian people.
Turkey also needs new markets for its exports, as there has been decline across the board in its traditional export markets.
Turkey's Economy Minister Mustafa Elitas said that both countries aim to boost trade volume to 30 billion dollars in the future.
"We are determined to walk together on this path to make that happen," he vowed.
Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci also noted that the modernization of existing customs gates between the two countries will be realized in short period of time, increasing the two way traffic capacity.
In a joint communique issued after the intergovernmental conference, it was stated that both sides agreed to remove hindrances on trade, cooperate on energy, improve customs, encourage investment, tourism, educational and cultural exchanges.
Turkey and Iran have further reaffirmed in the communique that they wish to see more cooperation on energy, especially by encouraging the private sector to develop joint projects.