Iran creating own Jebel Ali in south
Iran is pursuing ambitions plans to create a major free trade zone on its southwestern border areas with Iraq reminiscent of Jebel Ali, the hugely successful UAE trade hub that serves the Persian Gulf.
The country is currently accelerating investment in the project – called Arvand FTZ – that spans over an area of 37,400 hectare. It covers Abadan, Khorramshahr as well as Minoo Island and Shalamchech border point on the Iraqi border.
Work over the project began last year with the help of German advisors and Iran now hopes to complete it within two years, the Financial Times reported.
“We hope European companies will come and visit here and see the vicinity to the Iraqi market,” Esmaeel Zamani, the managing director of the state-run Arvand Free Zone Organization told the FT.
“Insecurity [in Iraq] is not good for Iran but critical conditions there have prepared the southern Iraq market for us.”
Akbar Torkan, a senior adviser to the Iranian president and head of Iran’s Free Trade Zones Organization, also told the FT that the potential for the project goes even beyond Iraq.
“Now that Iran no longer faces international sanctions, we are trying to build a bridge between Caspian Sea [in the north] and the Persian Gulf via railway which means Arvand can feed not only Iraq but also Russia,” said Torkan.
Industrialists and traders in Arvand FTZ — when fully operational — will be exempt from tax, duties, banking regulations, the labor law and visa obligations. The government hopes to prioritize oil-related industries, steel factories, power plants and renewable energies.
Already two big steel projects — including a $2-billion factory run by state-backed Jahanara in conjunction with Spain’s Sarralle Equipos Siderurgicos — have begun, added the report.