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Review of the Year In Business With Iran Since Our New Website Launch
18 Feb 2015
It has been a really exciting year for the White Rose Group. It is a year since we launched our new website and we have seen lots of political and economic developments in that time which bode well for Iranian businesses looking to build their connections across Iran and beyond. President Hassan Rouhani has continued to foster deeper alliances with neighbouring countries to expand trade and we wanted to take a look back at some of the highlights in business for Iran since upgrading our website.
Iran’s infrastructure developments, plus continuation of sanctions against Iran have been opening up business opportunities for Iranian entrepreneurs north, south, east and west this past year.
Countries of Central Asia stand to benefit from easier sea freight out of Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, which has received a boost from investment from India during 2014 and plans are still forging ahead here.
Rail freight via Iran increasingly connects Central Asian countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and beyond. The railway network has seen huge progress, with the opening of the Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway to complement developments at Chabahar. 1,380 kilometers of track now connect to rail networks in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and beyond to China and Russia. The section from Chabahar to Iranshahr was still being developed until recently. (Check back with the White Rose Group for updates on transport and logistical network updates).
Our neighbours in the region are increasingly turning to Iran as a lynchpin in their strategic economic development plans. These are great times for businesses looking beyond Iranian borders to expand their networks and build on what they do. Some of the world’s power houses of development are looking to build ties in the resource rich and growing economies of the middle east.
Since 2010, China and Russia have continued to build trade ties with Iran, including investment in Iranian oil and gas fields, buying of Iran’s grain. Both Russia and Iran share pressures from the west in terms of sanctions. China too is in deep competition with western nations to expand its industrial and trade networks and given the backdrop of sanctions, the two countries are perfectly primed to develop economic ties.
The port of Chabahar is of strategic importance to India, given relations with its neighbour, Pakistan. It offers a route into international markets via sea. India announced that they are to invest hugely in the Port. It had been a long time coming. In the past ten years the White Rose Group hoped that this day would finally arrive and celebrate this huge leap forward for Iranian businesses and increased links with India, one of the so-called BRIC economies, which includes Russia and China, with whom we are seeing on-going import and export development.
Afghans are increasingly seeking self-determination and autonomy. Whilst rich in natural resources, they desperately need greater economic growth, thriving businesses, more jobs and growth in import and export opportunities to boost the quality of life for everyday people. Chabahar port offers scope for them to break out of landlocked and restricted global trade and over-dependence on Pakistan, with whom relations have sometimes been fractious. The port of Chabahar provides a gateway to the world.
Similarly, the Iranian railway line from Chabahar to Zahedan, means air freight via Zahedan airport also opens up more international markets for our trading partners. We have seen how Khazakhstan too, amongst other Central Asian countries, will benefit from links to the Trans-Eurasian network.
Iran’s relations with Oman also saw growing warmth in extending of engineering projects. Oman's Minister of Commerce and Industry and Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade discussed opportunities for doing business together at Oman International Exhibition Center, where Iranian businesses networked with Omani counterparts at their national exhibition. Oman is expanding industrial development in Sohar, Salalah and Duqm as part of its five year plan announced in the last year. Railway infrastructure projects with Iranian involvement, sharing expertise in high-tech, mechanical engineering and the chemical industries is also high on the agenda for the two governments.
Still in the OPEC region, the United Arab Emirates have been in discussions with Iran too over extended oil related interests. Whilst oil prices have plummeted dramatically in recent months, it is vital that our relations with the UAE remain strong.
It has also been encouraging to see that Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia have been in closer negotiations this past year. Azerbaijan and Iran have previously gone through tense foreign policy negotiations over territorial issues. Baku, however, has made efforts to build better relations with Tehran. Joint ventures in car manufacturing are on the negotiating table. The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev has stated that rail development is a strategic priority for the country. The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia is due to be opened next year, which the White Rose Group and its subsidiaries are hugely excited about, because this could mean an extra five million tons of cargo and one million people travelling the new route annually.
This year, Gorgan, near the Caspian Sea saw its connection to a 577-mile railway track to Ozen in western Kazakhstan, via Turkmenistan in the north finalised. This gives Iran its North-South routes to get import and export business opportunities rolling faster across Eurasian countries with whom we have hundreds of trading connections.
Turkey too has had its share of tough negotiations with Tehran over road freight taxation. In October, we reported that the Iranian Embassy mooted the idea of creating interim measures to resolve road freight transport tensions and the tit for tat hikes in costs. We are still watching this space to see how this pans out in the next year. In particular we are interested to see how companies wishing to export via the Caspian Sea hope to manage their freight (and of course, we welcome any of your questions about these issues!)
Overall, in spite of some of the roller-coaster economic and political events in the past year, we believe that things are moving in the right direction for trade with Iran. We welcome the efforts of Tehran to build trading and transport infrastructure networks beyond our borders, which will be great for business and ease freight forwarding and logistics no end.
If you are looking for business support in freight forwarding within Iran or amongst foreign trading partners, speak to us first. With twenty years behind us, the White Rose Business Group has a number of subsidiary companies with special expertise in other business areas, including building and construction, business network development with manufacturers and distributors and more.