A delegation of high-ranking officials from Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications as well as Qatar Ports Management Company arrived in Tehran on Monday to survey avenues of expanding cooperation and increasing bilateral trade with their Iranian counterparts.
The delegation is scheduled to visit Iran’s southern ports and become familiar with their commercial and tourism capacities and meet with Iranian provincial port officials and businesspeople, the news portal of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development reported.
Qatar has been drawing closer to Iran economically, as Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in September 2017, since a number of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Doha early June and imposed a blockade on the Persian Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups.
The Qatari government has denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.
The role of cargo movement through sea route has increased in the country after the siege was imposed on Qatar.
“Most of the [Iranian] shipping lines have now switched their transport services to Qatar, instead of the UAE and Oman,” said Adnan Musapour, a member of Export Committee at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mining lately.
Valfajr Shipping Company (affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines), Rah Abrisham Marine Shipping Agency and Pasargad Shipping Lines are among Iranian firms that have started services to Qatar.
Masoud Khayatzadeh, the head of Abadan Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has been holding talks with major Qatari companies to establish an exclusive wharf in Qatar for Iranian goods, to ease transportation to the neighboring state.
According to Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi, the two countries formed a joint committee to boost cooperation in air and marine transportation, during Qatari Minister of Transport Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti’s visit to Tehran in late October.
The two countries are also working on forming a special corridor to ease transportation of goods from Iran to Qatar.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have been using Iran as a land route to export to Qatar, filling the gap in the market in the absence of Saudi Arabia and its allies after the Arab crisis broke out.
According to Mohammed bin Mahdi Al Ahbabi, a board member of Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the land route between Turkey and Qatar via Iran reduces the cost of transport of goods by about 80% compared to air cargo.
Turkey, Iran and Qatar signed a transportation pact late last year for boosting trade among the three countries.
Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and his Qatari counterpart Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani were in the Iranian capital Tehran to sign the agreement with Iran’s Minister of Industries, Mining and Trade Mohammad Shariatmadari.
Under the agreement, Iran will be the transit country between Turkey and Qatar. The deal is expected to help accelerate commodity delivery and facilitate trilateral trade, Anadolu Agency reported.
“Iran’s trade with Qatar totaled $250 million in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2018), registering an increase of 2.5% compared with the year before,” Iran’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ali Akbar Mehrfard said during the Sixth Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition, known as AgriteQ 2018.