ISSN 2330-717X

Iran: Chabahar Port An Emerging Hub Of Transit Trade And Foreign Investment – OpEd

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Transit of goods through Southeastern Chabahar port of Iran has increased significantly in recent years due to offered incentives and the development of the port’s infrastructure. Loading and unloading figure have reached two million tons, while it was merely 200,000 tons just a few years ago. The port aimed at attracting regional markets that include India and Afghanistan as well as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) Deputy Head for Ports and Economic affairs said, transit of goods through Southeastern Chabahar port has increased significantly in recent years due to offered incentives and the development of the port’s infrastructure.

“A 70% discount on tariffs and lowering transit costs through Chabahar port have been so effective that Chabahar loading and unloading figure has reached two million tons, while it was merely 200,000 tons just a few years ago,” Farhad Montaser Kouhsari told IRNA. According to Kouhsari, many of the country’s neighbors are currently choosing Chabahar port as the main route to ship their imported and exported goods, as well as raw material.

He emphasized that the goal of the port is now to attract regional markets including India and Afghanistan, Iran’s big trade partners, and also the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which can use Chabahar port to transit their goods with an average of 70% discount.

Montaser Kouhsari went on to say that the costs of commodity transit through Chabahar have been lowered and at the same time the infrastructure of the port has been improved so that it could load and unload all varieties of goods in a reasonable time.

Although, Chabahar is not directly on the US list of sanctions, it has been affected by them, he said adding that the PMO has identified potential customers and various incentives are offered so that they choose Chabahar as their main base.

Chabahar is Iran’s only ocean port, which is located in the southeastern Sistan-Balouchestan Province near the Indian Ocean. The port provides unique opportunities for investment of the private sectors of Iran and other regional countries.

In line with the development of the port, five big projects were recently started. The projects include petrochemical storage reservoirs, a goods warehouse, two oil products tanks, and a decontamination terminal of trucks. Implementation of eight other big projects in the port is in progress as well.

Managing Director of Chabahar Free Zone Organization said that through implementation of development programs, this organization is preparing the ground for the attraction of investors. Abdul-Rahim Kordi said these programs are creating trust for the investors in the zone.

Located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Chabahar is the country’s only oceanic port and given its strategic location in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) development of the port is of high significance for Iran. The government has some major projects to create multi-dimensional transportation facilities in this port.

In addition, Chabahar Free Zone has been suggested as a transit and logistic gateway for Iran’s domestic market which, while reducing the cost and time of transportation it has also provided profitable economic opportunities in the development of logistics facilities. It is a multi-purpose zone with educational, industrial, tourism and transportation sectors.

Chabahar Free Zone Organization has a plan for the development of specialized industrial parks with the participation of the private sector in the fields of industry, logistics, education, healthcare, tourism, etc., which the establishment of logistics industrial park is followed in the framework of upstream programs and documents.

At present Chabahar Free Zone is considered as a transit gateway in eastern Iran and based on national plans and also the interest shown by international parties, it is noteworthy as a center for providing logistics support, transportation and transit services.

Chabahar Free Zone with the aim of facilitating trade and minimizing transportation costs and focusing on services has allocated 150 hectares of land to create a logistics industrial park. This industrial park will be assigned to the international investors and or Iran-foreign joint venture.

Considering the geographical location, this industrial park can be connected to the Chabahar railway and will be established to have full support services. Centers such as public warehouses, cold storages, special warehouses for storing liquid and bulk goods, container warehouses, required laboratories, as well as personnel service facilities have been predicted.

Chabahar-Zahedan railway is expected to become operational in the next Iranian calendar year (begins in March 2021). Keeping in view the important role that the free zones play in promoting the country’s export and employment, Iran is seriously pursuing development of its existing free zones and establishment of new zones as well.

More development measures in this field have been taking since the US re-imposition of sanctions on the Iranian economy in November 2018, as Iran is reducing its dependence on the oil income, while elevating its domestic production and non-oil exports.

Although, the sanctions have disrupted Iran’s economic activities, they could not impede the development of Iranian free zones; in fact, the development of these zones has been even accelerated. Many strides made for increasing activities in the free zones have played a significant part in boosting the country’s non-oil exports and brought prosperity in the other economic sectors.

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Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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