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Ports are the Main Driver of Development in Guilan

Ports are the Main Driver of Development in Guilan
Ports, as the communication gateway of the country, play an effective role in economic and political development and provide effective services for owners of goods and customers. Our country, which has access to the Caspian Sea from the north and the Oman Sea and the Persian Gulf from the south, has significant capacities in this area.

According to the Public Relations of Ports and Maritime Authority of Guilan Province, Guilan, this green ring jewel of Iran, with its three important ports of Anzali, Astara and Caspian, is one of the most important and strategic provinces in this field.

Strategic location of these ports and being located in the transit route of the north-south corridor, having appropriate infrastructure such as multi-purpose warehouses, modern equipment for loading and unloading and maritime traffic system and suitable geographical location close to the industrial provinces of Tehran, Alborz, Qazvin, Zanjan, Azerbaijan (East and West) has distinguished this province from other parts of the country and given it a special place.

Three Important Ports of Guilan Province

Anzali Port Complex with a history of over 100 years and an area of about one million square meters, 16 berths and a nominal capacity of 11 million tons is one of the most important ports in Iran and an active port among the Caspian littoral countries.

The port of Astara was built and launched in 1375 for commercial-passenger activities and officially started operating in Farvardin 1392 with the mooring of container ships.

The 60-hectare multi-purpose port of Astara is the first private sector port in the country and the closest and most cost-effective route for trade and transportation of goods between Asia, Africa and Europe for loading and unloading 2,500 ton ships.

The Caspian port is one of the youngest ports in the country, the construction of which was started in 1395 by the private sector. This port, as a third generation port with an operative  and supportive hinterland of 350 hectares, a basin area of 220 hectares, design of 14 berths in the final phase, and 2 breakwaters with a length of 2.6 km can berth ships with higher draught.

During these years, various development projects have been implemented in order to upgrade the capacity and make more use of the potential of these ports, some of which have been completed and some are underway.

Exploitation of 30,000 and 50,000 Ton Grain Silos until the End of the Government of Prudence and Hope

General Director of Ports and Maritime Authority of Guilan Province announced about the operation of 30,000 and 50,000 ton grain silos, 10,000 ton oil tanks, landscaping and asphalting of Anzali Port Complex and landscaping and construction of a 5,000 ton warehouse in Astara port until the end of the Government of Prudence and Hope and clarified: “Anzali Port Complex witnessed a performance of seven million tons in the 1380s, but with the imposition of oppressive sanctions, its efforts focused on self-sufficiency, and the port's steel sector changed its approach from ironware to grain and basic goods and tried to use the capacity of the ports of Guilan province for the economic prosperity of the country by creating marketing centers”.

In an interview with IRNA, Hamid Reza Abaie added: "In recent years, this port has been fully prepared for the import of raw materials, basic goods, export of domestic products and transit and Guilan ports have provided the necessary infrastructure in this field by using multimodal transportation, loading and unloading of basic goods, dry and liquid bulk cargo, container operations, and transportation of general goods and petroleum products.”

He emphasized: “Anzali Port with 16 active berths, 10 old berths, four new concrete berths and 2 oil dolphin berths is ready to accept all passing ships in the Caspian Sea and while securing all maritime traffic, provide suitable water depth of at least 5.5 meters in all berth for mooring the large ships of the Caspian Sea.”

He then mentioned the reduction of costs and the high capacity of cargo handling as the most important issues in maritime transport and added: “In this regard, Ports and Maritime Authority of Guilan Province decided to use its lands to build ships with a tonnage of 8 and 10 thousand tons using the power of the private sector to revolutionize the tonnage of goods on a voyage and reduce the cost of transporting goods by sea.”

Referring to the old age of ships with Iranian flags - including the Caspian Shipping Company (at least 23 years old), Abaie announced the construction of a complex for shipbuilding and maintenance of large ships and modernization of the national fleet and added: “Using the rules of free trade zones, the Authority has been able to attract investors to build grain silos, suitable grain storage warehouses and oil tanks.”

He expressed hope that by allocating four hectares of land and six hectares of basin on the west side and the implementation of the marina project in the Port of Anzali, appropriate measures will be taken to attract marine tourists and promote the culture of using the sea and water sports.”

Connecting Guilan Ports to the National Railway Network

Abaie said: with appropriate measures and continuous follow-up through the executive, supervisory and legislative bodies by the Ports and Maritime Organization (including recent coordination with the chairman and members of the Civil Commission of the Islamic Consultative Assembly), a visit was made to the Anzali Port Complex and the establishment of a railway support terminal in the area of Anzali port station was emphasized.

He said that by connecting the Anzali port complex, the ring road and the railway station, the necessary conditions will be provided for the direct transport of rail cargo from the ships in the Anzali Port Complex to the Railway Station and vice versa.

He added: “Guilan ports due to the existence of coastal facilities such as convenient access roads, proximity to industrial provinces such as Qazvin, Zanjan, East and West Azerbaijan, Ardabil, Alborz and industrial and manufacturing towns in the west of Tehran have a special place in exports and support manufactured goods.”

Abaie stated: “Ports and Maritime Authority of Guilan Province, by establishing a special zone in Astara port and using the potentials of the private sector, has provided necessary conditions for this special zone to be able to create suitable infrastructures such as grain silos, roofed warehouses, hangars and support areas and at the same time, provide the necessary conditions for attracting value-added and production activities, and use container transportation facilities to increase exports.”

He assessed the performance of Astara port as positive and significant and said: "Currently, the amount of exports in this port is more than imports, and this shows that if more infrastructures are provided in this port, it is possible to increase the export of domestic products and even re-export of materials using legal facilities and the power of the private sector.”

The Director General of Ports and Maritime Authority of Guilan Province added: "Considering the very valuable role of ports in the logistics and supply chain of the country, we hope that the conditions for benefiting from rail transportation in Anzali and Astara ports will be provided. For this purpose, while coordinating with the implementers of railway projects, the connection of Astara port to the railway lines was put on the agenda so that we can see the provision of facilities for rail cargo in Astara port.”

The strategic position and proximity to important ports along the Caspian Sea such as Astrakhan and Makhachkala in Russia, Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, Octao in Kazakhstan and Baku in Azerbaijan have made Guilan ports (especially Anzali port complex) of special importance and status.”

The transit and export capacities of Guilan ports and the location of transit highways, including the north-south and east-west corridors, have caused Guilan ports to have a significant impact on the country's economic prosperity. For this reason, in an interview with experts in international, economic and transit relations, the potentials of these ports were assessed.

Special Place of Guilan Ports in International Interactions

An expert in the field of international affairs considered the role of Guilan ports in international interactions very important and said: Guilan province has three important ports that are located a few hundred kilometers away, Anzali port complex and Caspian port are 11 kilometers away and Astara port is located about 200 km from these ports. These conditions are a unique feature for Guilan province, which gives a special place to these ports in the equations of international cooperation.

In this regard, Majid Sayad Navard told IRNA: "With the establishment of port equipment and construction of Tehran-Rasht highway, proximity to Rasht International Airport and connection of Caspian port and Anzali port complex to the national railway in the future; fast, safe and convenient transportation of goods from Guilan ports will be possible.”

Referring to the free trade agreement between Iran and the European Union - Asia (Eurasia), he said: "Relations with the Caspian littoral states and the Eurasia Trade and Customs Agreement are a very good platform for exporting Iranian goods to the Caspian littoral states. Due to climatic diversity, Iran has the ability to produce and process weaving products. The proximity of Guilan ports to the industrial provinces and the capital city causes the cost of goods to be reduced and the goods to be offered at a reasonable price in the target markets.”

Sayad Navard noted that the Eurasian Economic Union provides a good opportunity for Iran to increase exports of domestically produced goods. The number of export items subject to tariff discounts in our country is 360. By using the appropriate infrastructure and transportation system, goods can be transported from Jahrom, Kahnooj and other places by refrigerated trucks to the ports of Guilan and then be exported to the markets of Russia and the Caspian littoral states.

"Maritime transport is one of the best ways to move goods around the world, and it allows commodity owners to move about 7,000 tons of their product at one time, but the railways do not have this capability," he said.

He specified: in case of rail connection of Shahid Rajaei port in the south to Guilan ports in the north and more connection of Iran with countries such as India (the fourth largest economic power in the world) and Russia in Northeast Europe and providing the necessary infrastructure; necessary conditions are provided for the development of trade and transit of goods and merchants will benefit from the port services of Guilan ports.”

Expanding Trade Relations Using the Potentials of Guilan Ports

In previous years, the northern ports received less attention than the southern ports and these ports were not the first priority of the cargo owners, but after the oppressive Western sanctions against Iran, to reduce the impact of these sanctions on the country's economy, Guilan ports used their full capacity and with the expansion of trade relations with the Caspian littoral states and Russia, they played an influential role in the import, export and transit of goods.

The Deputy of Ports and Economic Affairs of the Ports and Maritime Organization, referring to the movement of 120 million tons of goods from the country's ports last year, said: Due to its proximity to Tehran and the west of the country, Guilan ports can play a role in the development of import and transit, value added production and export of agricultural products. The export of domestically produced goods and agricultural products to the population of more than 300 million people in the Caspian littoral states will have a great impact on the economic prosperity of the region.

In an interview with IRNA, Farhad Montaser Kouhsari added: “Anzali, Astara and Caspian ports can generate income and currency for the country in addition to creating sustainable employment in the region by creating suitable infrastructure, added value and necessary technologies. The construction of freeways and connection to the national rail network in Guilan will create a dramatic economic boom and transformation.”

Emphasizing the development of the country's ports, he said: “Guilan ports have a good capacity in the field of import, export and transit of goods, but what traders and merchants should pay attention to is the presence in the countries of the region. Our terminal operators should be positioned in warehouses, berths and docks in the ports of the region in order to provide the ground for further development and expansion of exports.”

He pointed out: "Exports should be developed and the potential of the private sector, terminal operators and commercial and trading companies in the region should be used, and by identifying, marketing, developing and maintaining the markets, influence the country's economic growth and development."

Kouhsari added: having proper maritime, port, road, rail and air transportation equipment, development of Caspian shipping, establishment of Iranian and private companies in the ports of the region and complete logistics chain are important factors for economic development.

Efficient Transportation Network, Strengthen the Financial Network

According to transportation experts in developed and industrialized countries, transportation costs have a key role and considered as one of the important factors in calculating the cost of goods. For this reason, only countries can have an effective share of export markets that have a more capable transportation industry, otherwise the prices of exported goods will increase and they will lose their competitiveness.

An economist described the efficient transportation network as an obvious principle in the development of the country and added: “Today, the precondition for the development of the country and consequently the provinces and cities is to have an effective transportation network (not only domestic, but also international transportation network) that provides a platform for more trade facilities.”

Hadi Haghshenas added: “Among these, the best method is maritime transport, which transports a large amount and volume of cargo in the shortest time with the lowest cost, and considering that not all countries have access to the sea; this is a special feature for Iran that has access to the sea from the north and south.”

He added: “This access creates a comparative advantage for Iran and other countries and the reason why India (for Chabahar), China and Russia are willing to sign a 20-year memorandum with Iran is to have the sea in the north and south.”

He said: “Today, the cost of transportation is a very important and fundamental issue in the category of economy, so the short route and access through the Caspian Sea in the north and Makran coast in the south is one of the most important advantages for the development of our country because it allows Central Asian countries, especially those in the Eurasian group, to have access to open waters.”

Haghshenas added: “Paying attention to ports as the most important transportation infrastructure in the country, as well as completing maritime infrastructure, connecting to railways, building highways and airports will reduce production costs and increase consumer welfare. The share of the transportation sector in our country's GDP is less than 10%, while today the transportation sector in countries such as Singapore and the United Arab Emirates is one of the main components of the country's GDP.”

He said transportation includes four models of road, air, sea and rail, and stated:  “if transportation be efficient, the financial network will be strengthened. Today, transportation networks are complementary, and financial institutions have been established in countries to support transportation to increase the share of the service sector in GDP.”

Haghshenas stressed that in order to have efficient ports, optimal maritime infrastructure must be created to strengthen the financial network and increase GDP. Provision of infrastructure should be considered as a strategy in the country and there should be political orientation in this regard in order to finally provide necessary resources for the completion of infrastructure.

Guilan ports have played an important role in the country's economic prosperity in recent years, when the country is facing many economic sanctions. Proximity to the Caspian littoral countries and the location of industrial towns and provinces within a short distance from these ports are among other outstanding features of Guilan ports.

In this regard, creating the necessary infrastructure in the four sectors of transportation, reconstruction of facilities and equipment, operation of new investment projects such as silos, cold storages and warehouses, upgrading operational indicators and cross-border trade, establishing shipbuilding and ship repair yards, and the development of the marinas, will provide the basis for economic prosperity and sustainable employment in the region.

Creating an efficient transportation network is possible by strengthening the infrastructure, which requires more attention from the authorities to the comprehensive development of maritime transport. According to experts, if the provision of infrastructure is presented as a strategy in the country, political determination is formed in this regard and resources are provided to complete the infrastructure, the financial network in the country will be strengthened.

Guilan province is one of the northern provinces of the country, which is one of the most important economic regions of Iran with 110 km of coastline and three ports of Anzali, Astara and Caspian, and is of great importance for its proximity to the Caspian littoral countries and oil and gas reserves.

May 5, 2021 13:24
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