EghtesadOnline: Ports and Maritime Bureau of Bushehr Province has formed a special committee to address challenges hindering expansion of trade between Qatar and the Iranian province, the caretaker of the state body said.
“As exporters to Qatar mainly encounter problems associated with sea transportation, the bureau has set up the committee that will hold regular meetings to address these challenges,” the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development’s news outlet also quoted Nourollah Asadi as saying on Monday.
A delegation of high-ranking officials from Qatar Ports Management Company paid a visit to Iran’s southern ports last month and met their Iranian counterparts, visiting Bushehr, Khorramshahr, Bandar Imam Khomeini and Shahid Rajaee ports.
Mohammad Al-Khanji, the director of Qatar Ports Management Company, told a press conference in Bushehr during the visit that Qatar plans to invest in the development of Iran’s southern ports to help expand economic cooperation and increase bilateral trade, according to Financial Tribune.
“Qatar has long-term plans to increase trade ties with Iran and invest in its southern ports, which have an economic advantage for both countries … We firmly seek expansion of bilateral relations and nothing can change our strategic decision for expanding ties with Iran,” he said.
The value of trade between Iran and Qatar hit $275 million during the last Iranian fiscal year (March 2017-18), marking a 137% increase compared with the year before. Iran’s exports to the Persian Gulf state reached $248 million to register a 140% growth.
Qatar has been drawing closer to Iran economically, as Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said back in September, after a number of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Doha early June and imposed a blockade on the Persian Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups. The Qatari government has denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.
Currently, two southern ports of Bushehr and Lengeh account for the largest portion of goods sent from Iran to Qatar. However, Qatari officials seek stronger ties with all the Iranian southern ports, of which Negin Island Port in Bushehr offers best prospects for Qatari investors.
Negin Island is a small sedimentary natural island near Bushehr city. Authorities are planning to turn the island into a maritime hub through port construction.
The loading and unloading capacity of Bushehr Port, which is currently 7 million tons per annum, is expected to reach 15 million tons, following the construction of three important projects on Negin Island.
The dredging project of the container berth of Negin Island to allow the docking of 50,000-ton vessels has recently begun with an initial investment of 210 billion rials ($5 million).
With the completion of Bushehr development project in four months, Bushehr container loading and unloading capacity will increase to 600,000 TEUs, according to Asadi.
This is twice its current capacity, making it the country’s second biggest container port after Shahid Rajaee Port in Hormozgan Province.
On an official trip to the southern province of Bushehr, President Hassan Rouhani in January 2015 launched the construction of the long-awaited seaport on Negin Island, as part of the Bushehr port development project.
The director of Bushehr Province’s ports made the proposal to the Qatari delegation to invest on this island.
According to the head of Bushehr Industries, Mining and Trade Organization, 37.8 million tons of commodities worth $15.08 billion were exported from Bushehr Province located in southern Iran during the last Iranian year (March 2017-18).
Speaking to IRNA, Hossein Hosseini Mohammadi said major goods exported from the province, in terms of value, included petrochemical products, fertilizers, cement, clinker, fish, shrimp and sulfur.
China, South Korea, the UAE, India, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, Taiwan, Kenya and Qatar were the main customers.
About 1.16 million tons of goods worth $2.42 billion were imported into the province during the period under review. These goods mainly included banana, auto parts, rubber, rice, tea and toys.