EghtesadOnline: It’s business as usual when it comes to money transfer for the import of essential goods, as processing of transactions and shipments into Iranian ports has not changed since a year ago, the head of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran said.
Mohammad Rastad made the statement in response to a Reuters’ October 2 report that claimed more than 20 ships carrying around 1 million tons of grain were held up at Iranian ports due to payment problems created by the new round of US sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, ILNA reported.
“Over 100,000 tons of essential goods are being discharged at Iranian ports daily and 13 docks are exclusively reserved for vessels handling essential goods,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Noting that at present, 24 ships are waiting at Imam Khomeini Port for unloading, six of which have signaled readiness to enter the port, the official said, “The queue of ships has been formed because of the rising volume of imports.”
Echoing similar remarks, Director General of Khuzestan Ports and Maritime Organization Adel Deris said, "The ships are invited to go to other ports, including Chabahar and Shahid Rajee, due to the large volume of loading in the Bandar Imam Khomeini port. We have no difficulties with unloading ships over the US sanctions. At present, Bandar Imam Khomeini port's capacity is 3 million tons. In contrast, 24 million tons of goods were loaded in the first half of this year."
2.36% Rise in Loading, Unloading
Latest PMO statistics show 61.36 million tons of commodities were loaded and unloaded in Iran’s 21 commercial ports during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Aug. 22) to register a 2.36% rise compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Non-oil goods accounted for 43.19 million tons of the total throughput, showing a 6% year-on-year rise.
The remaining 18.16 million tons pertained to oil products, indicating a 5.37% decline YOY.
Container loading and unloading decreased by 48.1% to stand at around 563,248 TEUs.
A total of 30.88 million tons of commodities were exported from the ports under review and 13.73 million tons were imported, showing a 4.29% and 15.18% growth respectively compared with the similar period of last year.
A total of 2.19 million tons of goods were transited through these ports during the same period to register a 37.44% decline YOY.
The 21 ports under study include Iran’s southern ports of Abadan, Imam Khomeini, Bushehr, Khorramshahr, Genaveh, Lengeh, Chavibdeh, Arvandkenar, Charak and Dayyer located on the shores of Persian Gulf, Shahid Rajaee, Shahid Bahonar, Qeshm and Tiab at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, Jask and Chabahar on the coasts of the Sea of Oman and the northern ports of Fereydounkenar, Noshahr, Astara, Amirabad and Anzali bordering the Caspian Sea.
A total of 31.78 million tons of commodities were loaded and unloaded in Hormozgan Province’s Shahid Rajaee Port, registering a 4.25% rise compared with the similar period of last year.
Shahid Rajaee was the busiest port during the period under review. Non-oil goods accounted for around 21.09 million tons and oil products for over 10.68 million tons of the total, showing a 4.12% and 4.49 % growth respectively year-on-year.
Located 23 kilometers west of the port city of Bandar Abbas, the capital of Hormozgan Province, Shahid Rajaee Port is Iran’s biggest container port.
Over half of Iran’s commercial trading is carried out at Shahid Rajaee. The port complex also accounts for over 85% of all container throughput in the country.
According to Mohammad Reza Rezaei-Kouchi, the head of Majlis Development Commission, Shahid Rajaee Port has a 6% share in the region’s total container throughput per annum, ILNA reported.
Imam Khomeini Port in the southern Khuzestan Province was the second busiest port during the five months, handling more than 18.68 million tons of commodities. The figure shows a 6.33% increase YOY.
Non-oil goods accounted for more than 12.89 million tons and oil products amounted to 5.78 million tons of the total throughput in Imam Khomeini Port, registering a 21.21% growth and 16.5% fall respectively year-on-year.
The third busiest was Qeshm Port, also in southern Iran. More than 3.04 million tons of goods were loaded and unloaded there, indicating a 19.17% increase compared with the similar period of last year.
Non-oil goods accounted for over 2.98 tons and oil products for around 63,340 tons of the total throughput in Qeshm Port, showing an 18.46% and 60.88% growth respectively YOY.
A total of 5.04 million passengers were transported to and from the aforementioned ports, registering a 31.85% plunge compared with last year’s similar period.
67% Rise in Imports of Essential Goods
Latest statistics also show 11 million tons of essential goods were imported via Iranian ports in the five months, an official with Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran said.
“The volume of imports indicates a 67% rise compared with last year's corresponding period,” Ravanbakhsh Behzadian added.
Ever since last year’s imposition of anti-Iran sanctions claimed by US President Donald Trump as "toughest ever", the Iranian government has focused efforts on importing essential goods, mainly food products and pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, the import of what the government deems non-essential goods, mainly those with domestic counterparts, have been restricted or banned.
The sanctions were imposed after Trump decided to unilaterally walk out of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers, including the United States. The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed in 2015 and implemented a year later. It saw years of international sanctions lifted against Iran. In exchange, the country agreed to limit the scope of its nuclear program.
The 2018 US sanctions have targeted Iran's trade by obstructing its commercial exchanges with world powers.
Behzadian noted that Imam Khomeini Port has been at the forefront of essential goods imports.
“Close to 7 million tons of essential goods, including barley, corn, oilseeds, sugar and vegetable oil, were unloaded at the port located in the southern Khuzestan Province during the same five-month period under review, indicating a 64% increase year-on-year,” he said.