Iran’s Transit Importance
For being placed in an appropriate geographical condition, the Islamic Republic of Iran benefits from the transit advantages. With expansion of a reliable and efficient transportation network, the benefits can be optimally applied to elevate the exchange revenues and promote the strategic condition of Iran in the region. Most of the major oil-producing countries in the world are situated in the Persian Gulf region which is in south of Iran. The Persian Gulf region has been considered as the throat of world energy. Besides, Caspian Sea, which is placed in north of Iran, is the best communication bridge connecting Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan and can play a significant role in trading among these countries. Iran also has neighbors such as Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan in west and east. In other words, Iran is connected with 15 countries via land and water borders and can play as the connection point among these countries (together and with other countries). These countries have large population and high incomes which can affect the development of trade and transit in the region. The connection of central Asian countries with Persian Gulf and establishing trade relations among East Asian and European countries through Iran is highly cost effective, such that most of these countries are looking for establishing relations via Iran.
Advantages of Transit through Iran:
Considering the strategic and transit situation of Iran, many opportunities and advantages can be considered for transit through Iran. However, right exploitation from these opportunities, doing required investments, and simultaneous advertising can be effective in optimum utilization of this unique geographical transit situation. So, the way these advantages and opportunities are employed, and the way that transit connection with target states is established, can play a significant role in facilitating the trade among Asia, Europe and countries of the region as well as the transit development. In general, the advantages of transit through the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran are as follows:
Iran is placed in the route of north south transit corridor, consequently the transit connection among Russia, Eastern Europe, central Europe, northern Europe, Central Asia, and Caucasus on one side, and southern Asia, Southeast Asia, Far East, Oceania, and the Persian Gulf littoral states on the other side can be considered as an outstanding transit advantage for Iran. Furthermore, because of the shortened route in the north south corridor and the availability of facilities and infrastructures in various transportation sections, the Iranian transit route involves abundant attractions for freight transport. The ports of Shahid Rajaei, Amir Abad, and Anzali have especial places in the route of north south transit corridor. The ports of Shahid Bahonar, Lengeh, Bushehr, Chabahar, Imam Khomeini and Nowshahr have unique potentials as well.
The establishment of transit connection among Afghanistan and Central Asia through the eastern transit axis of Iran (Chabahar-Milak); geographical proximity of Chabahar Port to Afghanistan; investing vastly in various transport sectors especially the marine sector; and providing facilities and transport infrastructure in the east axis and extensive government support has converted the Chabahar port to the Afghanistan transit hub. In case of removing the obstacles, other than development of the east axis, the transit will progress in this route. The Chabahar port has been considered as the most important port in the transit route of west axis; but because of some structural insufficiencies, it has less importance compared to Bandar Abbas in transiting goods to Afghanistan.
Being placed in the geographical center of ECO member states (Economic Cooperation Organization) has provided the opportunity for Iran to play an active role in establishing trade relations with ECO member states and to be active in the transit of exportable and importable goods produced in the member states within the framework of various business agreements. The discounts and extensive facilities for transit through Iran include some exemptions and discounts in port and storage fees; so that, regardless of granting exclusive facilities to develop transit through Chabahar port especially for transit goods of Afghanistan, the transit goods benefit from exemptions related to the storage fees for the first 10 days (after unloading) and 30% discount in storage fees up to one month thereafter.
All the government organizations are obliged to remove the obstacles and facilitate the transit of goods from Iran; in this regard, some precious actions can be mentioned such as developing and equipping ports, roads and railway routes including Bafq-Mashhad railway plan.
Extensive capacities and potentials in various transport sectors; qualitative and quantitative increase of equipment; development of new capacities in infrastructures, railway, road, and marine transport fleet; and development of loading and unloading equipment in ports:
However , transit has relatively decreased during the last two years, but transit of goods belonging to the central Asian countries, Caucasus, Iraq, and Afghanistan is increasing now which is the result of successful actions done for developing and promoting transit in the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Main Routes and Transit Ports in Iran (North-South, East-West):
North-South Transit Routes:
North-south transit corridor (NSTC) with the centrality of Bandar Abbas to Amir Abad port and Anzali port
Some ports including Chabahar, Lengeh, Bushehr, and Imam Khomeini have the necessary potentials in this route.
East-West Transit Route:
This route starts at Sarakhs (in the Pakistan border) and continues to Bazargan and Jolfa in the borders of Turkey and Azerbaijan. This route is the alternative to the ancient Silk Road and has the role of connecting Far East to Europe through Central Asia, Iran and Turkey.
Transit Route of Sarakhs-Latakia Port (in Syria):
In case of providing the infrastructure, making appropriate decisions, and cooperation of the countries of interest within the framework of transit trade agreements, this route can be considered as an option for transit connection of middle east to Mediterranean sea and finally north Africa, Southern Europe and America continent, especially northern America and Canada. Some of the important cities in this route are: Sarakhs, Khosravi, Khanaqin, Bagdad, Alghaem, Diralzavar, Halab, Latakia port.
Transit Route of Indian subcontinent to Mediterranean Sea and Europe:
This route can be suggested for developing the trade and transit in Iran. It connects the Southeast Asia, India and Pakistan to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe through Iran.
Transit Route of Imam Khomeini Port-Shalamcheh-Iraq:
Because of the problems in ports of Iraq, after unloading in Iranian ports (including Imam Khomeini and Khoramshahr) the freight is transited to Iraq through Shalamcheh border. Other than Shalamcheh border, the Khosravi border has also the required potentials for transiting goods to Iraq which are unloaded in Imam Khomeini or Bandar Abbas ports.
East Axis Transit Route: (Chabahar Port, Milak, Ferah, Kandahar, Kabul, Kunduz, Termed (Uzbekistan), Central Asia:
This route has high potentials and capacities for transiting goods needed by Afghanistan. It can also meet the transit needs of Central Asian countries through Chabahar-Milak-Afghanistan or Chabahar-Sarakhs-Turkmenistan.