EghtesadOnline: As Qatar seeks ways to weather food shortage in the wake of a boycott imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, Iran has said it would all it can to help the neighboring state.
The Saudi-led coalition cut diplomatic ties as well as land, marine and air links with Qatar last week, in what many describe as unprecedented crisis in the troubled Arab world in decades.
It was triggered by Saudi Arabia accusing the energy-rich sheikhdom that it supports alleged terrorist groups and siding with Iran, Doha denied the charges.
While the spat raised concerns among the Qatari population of 2.6 million, its government has sought to assure residents that food supplies are adequate, according to Financial Tribune.
Ever since the Arab rift surfaced, Iran opened its skies to Qatari planes and supplied fresh fruit and vegetable. Food and other industries have offered to meet the needs of the neighboring country on request.
Chief Executive of Iran Airports Company Rahmatollah Mahabadi, the main body managing the country's air traffic, said Iran permitted Qatar Airways to take a detour through Iran for planes which regularly flew over Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to inter-continental destinations. He said this could add up to 150 flights to those already passing Iranian airspace.
CEO of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization Ali Abedzadeh said this week Doha’s request to divert flights over Iran led to a 17% rise in Iranian air traffic.
As for food supplies, on Tuesday, head of Ports of Maritime Organization of the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Lengeh said 180 tons of food and vegetables were shipped to Qatar, the first of its kind.
Earlier on Sunday , Iran sent its first marine shipment of 480 tons of food to Qatar from the port of Dayyer, its closest harbor to the tine Arab country.
Supplies through air, however, started as of Thursday, with an Iran Air Boeing 747.
Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi was quoted as saying that, as of Sunday, five planes had shipped 90 tons of food to Qatar, adding the sixth plane was due to fly late Sunday night. He said Iran Air would continue the deliveries subject to demand.
On Monday, an Iranian union of chicken farmers said it has received requests from Qatar for chicken eggs. Mihan Central Union of Producers of Egg-Laying Hens—the sole Iranian union in the sector—told the Financial Tribune it had received several requests from Qatari traders, adding that talks had begun for the shipment of eggs.
Reza Torkashvand, the union’s CEO, was quoted as at a press briefing Monday that the Ministry of Agriculture has taken urgent measures to facilitate the health and safety procedures regarding export of chicken eggs to Qatar.
Moreover, a major steel producer, Esfahan Steel Company, has said it is ready to export steel products to Qatar.
The company's deputy managing director for sales and marketing Ehsan Dashtianeh said, "Qatar needs a considerable amount of steel products for its development plans which were earlier supplied from companies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”
Imports from the two countries is now banned. "ESCO is ready to help meet Qatar's needs for construction steel including heavy sections if the [diplomatic] crisis continues," he was quoted as saying by S&P Global Platts.
Founded in 1971, ESCO is Iran’s third biggest steelmaker and largest long steel producer. The company was Iran’s fourth largest steel exporter last year. It shipped 640,521 tons of beams, rebars, coils and cast iron overseas, registering an 8% drop compared to the preceding year.
Iran’s trade relations with Qatar are not impressive at present. The last annual trade data released by the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran show Iran exported $146 million worth of goods, including carpets, cement, steel pipes, beams and industrial oil to the neighbor in the calendar year that ended in March 2016.