February 15, 2021
Iran will establish a direct shipping line between its southern port of Bandar Abbas and Syria’s Latakia port, announced Head of Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce Keyvan Kashefi.
Kashefi acknowledged that there are issues in trade with Syria regarding the shipping, transportation, and lack of common land borders. However, he noted that transportation through Iraq is currently impossible due to “several issues.”
The official told Fars news agency that the necessary coordination has been made between the Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce, the Committee for the Development of Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian Economic Relations, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).
Cargo ships will hold freight from Iran to Syria once per month starting March 10, announced Kashefi, adding that the service could be held twice a month if demand for shipping increased.
“There are no restrictions on export items; these ships are both container and bulk carriers, and any trader can choose Syria as his export destination if they want,” Kashefi stressed.
He did not discuss the impact of economic sanctions imposed on both countries on shipping.
Kashefi explained that goods are transported to Syria through three ways including the Bandar Abbas-Lattakia shipping line which was active but not regular. The second route was by land via Iraq, an option which is currently not possible for several reasons, which he did not discuss.
He noted that goods were also transferred from Iran via Turkey’s Mersin port, but it was a costly and problematic option.
Tehran is looking forward to increasing trade exchanges with Damascus, however, Kashefi did not disclose any details regarding the possibility of transit for the Iranian ship, in light of the US economic sanctions.
Washington imposed Caesar Act on the Syrian regime, which also targets individuals or entities that support the Assaad regime.
Kashefi visited Syria recently and met with a number of senior officials and members of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce.
A number of economic sources in Damascus said that Kashefi discussed during his meetings the establishment of an Iranian Commerce Center that includes 24 Iranian companies. The center could provide access to the Syrian chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture.
The officials in Damascus suggested using Syria as a gateway that allows Iranian products into the Arab markets.
The Syrian side also requested finding a solution for the issue of bank transfers between the two countries.
They proposed a barter system that could facilitate the flow of goods in both directions and stimulate large Iranian companies to support and rebuild Syrian factories.
The officials also hope the new agreements will supply Syrian industrialists with the raw materials they need and establish a land shipping route in cooperation with Iraq.
Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce was established in 2019 on the sidelines of the Joint Business Forum, with the aim of encouraging Iranian companies to contribute to the reconstruction in Syria.
Before the imposition of the Caesar Act, the two countries witnessed a remarkable increase in economic activity in 2019, with the arrival of six Iranian cargo ships to Latakia port 12 times through the Iranian Syrian maritime line.