EghtesadOnline: About $56 million worth of non-oil goods were exported from the southern Bushehr Province to Qatar in the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22), the provincial governor of Bushehr said.
Abdolkarim Geravand was also quoted as saying by IRNA that minerals, construction materials and agricultural produce were the main exports from Bushehr to the neighboring country.
Ports and Maritime Bureau of Bushehr Province has formed a special committee to address challenges hindering the expansion of trade between Qatar and the Iranian province.
"As exporters to Qatar mainly encounter problems associated with sea transportation, the bureau has set up this committee, which will hold regular meetings to address these challenges," the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development's news outlet quoted Nourollah Asadi, the caretaker of Ports and Maritime Bureau of Bushehr Province, as saying in May, Financial Tribune reported.
> Qatar's Interest in Iran's Southern Ports
His comments came a month after a delegation of high-ranking officials from Qatar Ports Management Company paid a visit to Iran’s southern ports and met their Iranian counterparts, touring Bushehr as well as 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.
“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,” Khanji said.
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 Iranian southern ports.
> Negin Island Boasts Great Opportunity
Among all the southern ports of Iran, Negin Island Port in Bushehr offers the best opportunity for Qatari investors.
Negin Island is a small sedimentary natural island near Bushehr city in southern Iran. Authorities are planning to turn the island into a maritime hub through port construction. The loading and unloading capacities of Bushehr Port, currently 7 million tons per annum, are expected to reach 15 million tons following the implementation of three important projects on Negin Island.
The dredging project at Negin Island to allow the docking of 50,000-ton vessels has recently begun with an initial investment of 210 billion rials ($1.5 million).
According to Asadi, with the completion of Bushehr development project on Negin Island in four months, Bushehr's container loading and unloading capacities will increase to 600,000 TEUs.
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 a long-awaited seaport on Negin Island, as part of the Bushehr Port development project.
Asadi made the proposal to the Qatari delegation to invest on this island during their visit.
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 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, mineral fertilizers, cement, clinker, fish, shrimp and sulfur. China, South Korea, the UAE, India, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, Taiwan, Kenya and Qatar were the main customers.
A total of 1.16 million tons of goods worth $2.42 billion were imported into the province during the period. These goods mainly included banana, auto parts, rubber, rice, tea and toys.
Qatar has been drawing closer to Iran economically, as Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in September, after a number of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia 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.
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.