EghtesadOnline: Iran’s total non-oil trade with Caspian Sea littoral states in the last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2018) reached 4.15 million tons worth $2.05 billion, marking a 32.64% and 35.43% decline in tonnage and value respectively compared to the year before.
The figures were culled by Financial Tribune’s analysis of Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration’s statistics.
Iran exchanged $101.23 billion worth of non-oil goods with other countries in the fiscal 2017-18, up 15.5% compared with the year before, IRICA reported.
Exports during the 12-month period hit 132.3 million tons worth $46.93 billion, indicating a 6.56% rise as imports amounted to 38.73 million tons worth $54.3 billion, up 24.31% YOY, according to Financial Tribune.
The above figures indicate that Iran’s non-oil trade with Caspian states accounted for 2.02% of the country’s overall foreign trade last year.
Exports to this select group of countries accounted for 2.55% of overall exports, as 1.56% of overall imports came from these four nations.
Located between Europe and Asia, the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake, is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the west, Iran to the south and Turkmenistan to the southeast.
Iran exported a total of 2.46 million tons of non-oil goods worth $1.2 billion to the four countries under review last year, registering a decline of 19.58% and 8.70% in tonnage and value respectively, while imports stood at 1.69 million tons worth $850.03 million, down by 45.5% and 54.35% in tonnage and value respectively year-on-year.
Iran-Russia trade stood at 1.91 billion tons worth $1.03 billion, down by 21.83% in tonnage and 42.14% in value YOY. As such, Russia was Iran’s biggest trading partner among Caspian states last year.
Iran exported 540,486 tons of commodities worth $293.52 million to Russia, posting a 49% and 34% increase in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Russia exported 1.37 million tons of goods worth $743.15 million to Iran, down 34% and 53% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Following Russia, Turkmenistan had the highest value of commercial exchanges with Iran, which amounted to 915,188 million tons worth $431.15 million, registering a decline of 38.78% and 25.57% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Iran exported 882,239 tons of commodities worth $418.10 million to Turkmenistan, down by 38% and 24% in tonnage and value respectively YOY as it imported 32,949 million tons of Turkmen goods worth $13.04 million to indicate a 58% and 59.04% decrease in tonnage and value respectively.
Iran-Azerbaijan non-oil trade amounted to 780,985 tons worth $351.14 million to go down by 34.91% in tonnage and by 13.51% in value YOY.
Iran shipped 711,108 tons of goods worth $324.01 million to this neighbor, registering a 32% decline in tonnage and 10% fall in value YOY. Azerbaijan exported 69,877 tons of commodities worth $27.13 million to Iran, down by 54% and 41.98% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Among the Caspian Sea countries, Kazakhstan was the only country whose trade with Iran witnessed growth in value. The Central Asian country’s trade with Iran totaled 550,145 tons worth $234.69 million last year, down 46.76% in tonnage and 41.86% in value YOY.
Iran shipped 329,277 tons of goods worth $167.98 million to Kazakhstan, registering a 40% growth in tonnage and 13% decline in value YOY. Kazakhstan exported 220,868 tons of commodities worth $66.70 million to Iran, going down by 72% and 68.38% in tonnage and value respectively YOY.
Exploiting Full Capacity of Caspian Ports
The northern Amirabad Port, located in Iran’s northern Mazandaran Province, hosted a two-day international forum dubbed “Export Promotion Through Caspian Sea” last week.
The event was attended by officials from Iran as well as eight countries, namely Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, India and Afghanistan.
“The littoral states of Caspian Sea use only use one-fifth of the capacity of Caspian ports,” Mohammad Rastad, deputy minister of roads and urban development and director general of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, said in an address to the forum.
Rastad noted that Iran’s northern ports have a throughput capacity of around 30 million tons, of which only 5-6 million are used annually.
“Transit, export and import interactions need to expand between the countries involved,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
According to Siavash Rezvani, director general of Amirabad Port Special Economic Zone, eliminating hurdles in the way of expanding exports to the Caspian Sea littoral states through Iran’s northern ports, the role of ports in improving exports and reexports, the legal advantages of free trade zones in improving exports and the significance of international multimodal companies in exports were the main topics of discussion in the forum.
Amirabad is the largest port facility on the Caspian shore and the third largest port in Iran. It accounts for 60% of the total port activities in the north of the country.
“At present, around 4.5 million tons of commodities are loaded and unloaded annually at the port while its nominal annual throughput capacity stands at 7.5 million tons,” Rezvani was quoted as saying by IRNA.
More than 400,000 tons of commodities were exported from Amirabad Port during the first quarter of the current Iranian year (March 21-June 21), registering a 35% increase compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Rezvani noted that the main exported products were cement and clinker, citrus fruit, gas, construction material and tomato paste.
“The construction of a roll on/roll off facility in Amirabad Port, which will enable freight trains to board commercial ships for the loading and unloading of goods, has had 98% progress and will come on stream by the [fiscal] yearend [March 2019]. The port is already connected to the railroad network,” he said.
According to Rezvani, about 19.2 trillion rials ($457.14 million) have been invested in the port so far by public and private sectors.