Given Iran enjoys high degree of safety as well as proper commercial circumstances for maritime and ports collaborations, international shipping lines have been more than willing to extend their trips to Iranian ports, and this has paved the grounds for domestic and international investments.
In this regard, the Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (IPMO) intends to announce several massive-scale projects, which would serve absorbing to foreign investors. To delve into this issue more elaborately, MANA correspondent sat down with IPMO Ports and Special Zones Deputy, Jalil Eslami. In the upcoming section, you will find the transcript of this interview.
What are your current plans for attracting international investors to Iranian ports?
We have proposed our investment opportunities both through official channels and in IMPO website, and this has made them accessible to corporations and holdings. I must also add that we will introduce several huge projects, which will be worth considering by those interested in macroscale investment.
One of such projects is developing and expanding Shahid Rajaei Port’s off-shore at the area of at least 2400 hectares. This could be deemed as one of the largest logistics projects in Iran. I will not say the largest project just to be on the safe side, but I do emphasize that it is one of the largest projects as far as logistics is concerned. The preliminary measures for this project have been taken, and it will soon be officially announced. Likewise but in smaller scales, we are hammering out the details of an offshore project in Imam Khomeini Port at the area of 700 to 800 hectares, which will be allocated to logistics and value added services.
There are several other projects in place, the most significant of which is the third phase of Shahid Rajaei Port Complex. The preliminary studies of this project have almost been completed and it will be officially publicized in the next upcoming months. Grains terminals in Imam Khomeini Port and Negin Island in Boushehr are examples of other projects that are being designed and executed.
What points are to be considered for the attraction of international investors?
It is important to select corporations that enjoy ample international-level experience and trade networks. Besides, it is important that the handpicked companies, either foreign or domestic, possess sufficient knowledge and have access to advanced ports/terminal management software and hardware systems.
Upon the lifting of the sanctions and the execution of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),
IRISL, as the main vessel of Iran’s trade, managed to grow out of its limitations rapidly, and this called further port-wise collaboration with other countries in the post-JCPOA era. Which countries were involved in these extended collaboration? International shipping lines and transportation companies have restated their trips to Iranian ports and up until this moment, at least 18 companies have commenced their cooperation with Iran again. The regular and routine trips of 13 international shipping lines to Iranian ports, particularly Shahid Rajaei Port, have been retrieved.
Furthermore, nine credible international port operation contractors (from China, Singapore, Denmark, France, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany and the Philippines) have requested for investment opportunities in Iran.
As far as technical aspects are concerned, we have reached an agreement with Italian corporations for the transfer of technical information and mechanizing Iranian ports; and to this end, a joint venture with 51 % Iranian shares has been in order. Besides, in terms of support and insurance services, International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) institutes have restated issuing legal certificates for Iranian fleet again, and as well, the International Group of P&I Clubs have restarted covering Iranian ships by protection and compensation insurance.
How many international lines have restarted their trips to Iranian ports?
Prior to sanctions, 22 international lines used to cooperate with Iran, and recent months we have witnessed 14 of them restarting their collaboration with Iran, and the other 8 lines, as well, have expressed their willingness and interest for working with Iran.
For the time being, 14 active international shipping lines harbor a special vision as to Shahid Rajaei and Bandar Abbas, among which are the most prominent and best-known world-class lines – namely MSC.
Active and frequent trips of international lines to Iranian ports provide importers and exporters with different options, and as well, assist them in transferring their goods at fair prices and competitive atmosphere. Moreover, direct trips of international lines to Iran will eliminate the need for transferring the goods to a third-party port in the neighboring countries, and will noticeably reduce the costs that were imposed on us under sanctions. Moreover, collaborations with these lines will bring about crucial international credit and prestige for Iran, and will indicate that Iran is a safe country, where proper conditions for commercial collaborations are met. It should also be noted that promoting commercial capacities of Iranian ports as well as offering high-quality services would definitely encourage international lines to make more trips and transfer more goods to and from Iran.
Could you please fill us in on the investments on Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port?
Based on the contract signed with IPMO, 210 hectares of land in Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port have been placed at the disposal of Arya Banader Iranian Company. The company has committed to equip the port and operate it based on a technical-economic plan for a 30-year period.
The activities of this company in Chabahar are meant to be carried out in two independent sections.
The first section will encompass the development, equipment and operation of Shahid Beheshti Port’s 1st phase at an area of 210 hectares with 403 million dollars’ worth of investment. The 2nd phase, however, involved the attraction of foreign investment for funding parts of container wharf in this port. For the second stage, negotiations have been made and a contract has been signed with the Indian company of IPJPL.
Based on this contract, the Indian company will supply the 85 million dollars of fund required for purchasing port equipment, and in return, it will be licensed to operate and benefit from the port in BOT style.
The fund needed to perform this project is 403 million dollars, 80 % of which has been borrowed as a loan from National Development Fund. This loan is extended to a period of 10 years: 2 years of purchase and 8 years of operation; and Toes’e Saderat Bank is supposed to supply the loan. The remaining 20 % of the project is supposed to be funded by Arya Banader-E-Iran itself. Given the large size of the project and the massive volume of its financial interactions, both domestic and foreign companies are welcomed to purchase some shares and collaborate with us in this project.
Investment in Chabahar involves a large number and a wide variety of land equipment, including grain sucker, gantry crane, reach stacker, transtainer, as well as different types of maritime equipment such as two vessel, dredger, rescue vessel and other machineries and props which are on the purchase list. Arya Bandar Iranian company’s approach in Shahid Beheshti Port is to meticulously hand pick props and machineries that are cutting-edge and of top-notch quality. To this end, the purchases of the aforementioned data-x-items are conducted via holding international tenders and asking reputable foreign and domestic industrial corporations to bid.
What particular privileges do you offer to the foreign corporations that make investments in Shahid Rajaei Port’s 2nd and 3rd phases?
In the light of the 6th national development plan, IPMO is licensed to operate the country’s prominent ports terminal through establishing a joint venture co-owned by the Iranian party and the foreign investor. In line with this policy, we have held a public auction for T1 and T2 terminals, and we are currently in the middle of technical analysis.