EghtesadOnline: A total of 585,038 tons of commodities were exported from the northern Gilan Province’s Astara land border during the first nine months of the current Iranian year (March 20-Dec. 20), which shows a 26% rise compared with the similar period of last year.
According to Director General of Gilan Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization Fariborz Moradi, the main exported goods were fruit and vegetablse, as well as tiles and ceramics, the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development reported.
Around 109,159 tons of products were imported through Astara during the same period, registering a 22% year-on-year increase, which mainly included chickpeas, banana and medium-density fiber (MDF) boards.
Moradi noted that 58,213 tons of commodities were transited through this northern border terminal during the nine months, with rice, tea, chickpeas and flour having the biggest share.
“A total of 31,934 trucks entered and 32,222 exited the country through Astara. About 34,811 and 36,386 passengers entered and departed from the country respectively through this border crossing during the period,” he added.
The port city of Astara bordering Azerbaijan Republic also trades through the Caspian Sea.
A total of 151,000 tons of goods and 185 TEUs of container goods were handled in Astara Port from March 20 to Dec. 20, indicating a respective increase of 27% and 100% year-on-year.
According to Mohammad Mohsen Salimipour, a local official, 28% more vessels entered Astara Port during the period.
Kiyanoush Amiri, the head of Astara Port and Maritime Organization, said a 75-meter-long wharf is under construction at the port, the completion of which will increase the throughput capacity of Astara from the current 700,000 tons to around 1 million tons per year.
Masoud Almasi, the head of Gilan’s Agricultural Organization, said, “Every year, 40 types of agricultural products are exported from Astara. We are planning to set up an agricultural export terminal to help increase our export figures and generate jobs in the country.”
Astara is one of the few privately-run ports in Iran.
Amiri noted that 500 billion rials ($2 million) worth of investments have been made by the private sector since the beginning of the last Iranian year on March 20, 2019.
“The investments were made in establishing infrastructures such as wharfs and port facilities, storehouses, grain silos and water canals, and expanding radio communications and marine traffic control facilities,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The official said Astara Port is willing to facilitate private sector investments in all areas, especially in food processing industry and marine tourism.
The port has played a significant role in easing exports from the northern part of the country in recent years. It was established in the year ending March 2010 and began operation in the year ending March 2014 under a 40-year contract with the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran.
Astara Port, with an area of 55 hectares, connects Iran and Azerbaijan. Located 550 kilometers from Turkey, it is the only northern port linked to Azerbaijan’s land border and the only one located near the neighboring country’s railroad and the whole of the European rail network.