“Economic diplomacy seeks to expand relations with neighbors”
TEHRAN – “By promoting economic diplomacy, we can develop relations with neighboring countries, which will also lead to the prosperity of free zones,” said Hossein Garousi, acting managing director of Arvand Free Zone Organization.
“Diplomacy should not be just political,” he said, adding: “We need economic diplomacy, especially with neighboring countries to improve people’s livelihoods”.
The creation of common free zones could expand relations and improve economic conditions, the official noted.
He described the free zones as an opportunity for the country and said that the full implementation of the law on the management of free zones can remove the existing problems and obstacles.
The Arvand Free Trade Zone is located in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran.
The establishment of free zones (FTAs) in Iran dates back to the Iranian calendar year 1368 (March 1989-March 1990) following the fall in the country’s oil revenues the previous year which prompted the government to promote non-oil exports.
Iran’s first two free trade zones were established in the south of the country. The first was the Kish Free Trade Area established in 1368 on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf and the second was the Qeshm Free Trade Area established the following year on Qeshm Island in the Strait. of Ormuz.
Some five other free zones have also been established in the country since then, including Chabahar in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, Arvand in the south-western part of the province of Khuzestan, Anzali in the north of the province of Gilan, Aras in the province of eastern Azerbaijan and Maku in western Azerbaijan. Province, both in the northwest of the country.
While nearly three decades have passed since the start of the activity of free trade zones in Iran, their intended objectives have not been fully achieved and their development still faces certain obstacles.
As announced by the Secretary of the Higher Council of Iranian Free Zones Hamidreza Mo’meni in mid-July, new free zones are expected to be created in the country during the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2022).
Stating that new free zones will be set up by order of the president, the official said: “If we can settle the subject of the comprehensive plans of these zones, I think that by the end of this year, the new free zones will be added to the existing ones.
According to Mo’meni, the trade balance of the country’s free zones and special economic zones has been positive over the past three years.
“With the measures taken for the promotion of exports in the country, the trade balance of free trade zones and special economic zones has become positive in the past three years,” the official said.
“However, there are still weaknesses in the first and second generation of free trade zones and special economic zones in the country, which we will try to minimize by improving infrastructure in these zones,” he reiterated.
He said the country’s free zones do not have a comprehensive development plan, which means managers in each zone act according to their own preferences.
Exports, the transfer of technical knowledge, the attraction of national and foreign investments and the creation of sustainable jobs are among the expectations of free zones, and in order to prepare a comprehensive plan for the development of free zones, these issues should be considered for the next 50 years. years.
“If we can sort out the subject of the comprehensive plans for these zones, I think that by the end of this year the new free zones will be added to the existing ones,” Mo’meni said.