The Port of Antwerp has visited Iran to make contact with official bodies following the announcement that sanctions on the country would be gradually lifted.
A delegation from the port, including port alderman and port authority’s chairman Marc Van Peel as well as petrochemical and shipping experts, met in Tehran with various ministries, petrochemical organisations and private companies in the attempt to “open the doors of Iran for the Antwerp port community once more”.
The visit, which was drawn up in close collaboration with the Belgian embassy, concluded with a visit to the Shahid Rajaee port in Bandar Abbas and the Queshm free trade zone.
During the exploratory mission, which included a meeting with a number of Iranian private companies and consultancies with expert knowledge of the Iranian shipping industry, the parties discussed Iran’s ambitions in shipping and commerce, as well as the role the port of Antwerp could play in achieving these objectives.
Van Peel said: “Up until 2010 Antwerp was the largest European port destination for Iranian cargoes. In the light of the recent nuclear agreement and the raising of economic sanctions, we wanted to let the Iranians know directly that Antwerp is still the ideal hub for reaching the European hinterland.”
“In all respects the mission was certainly successful, opening up prospects both for Iran and for our port,” he added.
As part of the programme, the delegation also met with the head of the Ports and Maritime Organization, the head of the Islamic Republic Shipping Line, the head of the Iranian Customs service and the vice-chairman of the Iranian Investment Organisation.
Van Peel added: “There is also great demand on the Iranian side for know-how concerning port infrastructure, among other things. Port of Antwerp International and the Antwerp Flanders Port Training Centre are ready to support the Iranian port community in these areas.”
The Port of Bandar Abbas ranked 79th in the 2015 issue of “World Top Container Ports”, having handled around 1.8m teu in 2014. In 2013, sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community depressed container throughput at the port by 24% to 1.76m teu.
The US, EU and UN will all lift their sanctions progressively, assuming that Iran continues to allow inspections and those inspections show no evidence of the country developing nuclear capabilities. Following this announcement, global companies are expected to now target Iran as a market and to move production there in some cases.