Muscat: Omani investment is required in Iranian ports to make direct cargo shipping services between the two countries efficient and complete, said an Iranian official who believes the re-export structure in Oman needs to be improved.
In order to establish an ‘actual’ connection, Omani investors should definitely invest in Iranian ports such as Port of Chabahar and Shahid Rajaee Port, otherwise some links will always remain missing in the transit chain, said Abdolhossein Khedri, chairman of the Khedri Jahan Darya Company.
Khedri Jahan Darya Company, affiliated with Marine Silk Road Holding, has been providing the first-ever regular, direct shipping services for cargo transport between Iran and Oman since a few months after an agreement was signed between the company and Iranian and Omani authorities.
The company participated in Iran’s second solo exhibition, which was held in Muscat from January 26 to 30.
In an exclusive interview with the Times of Oman, the official said the current frequency of the direct shipping services between Shahid Rajaee Port and Sohar Port is every 14 days.
However, there are plans to offer these services every 10 days and then every week in later stages, given the expected increase in demand, he added.
Asked about the response to the shipping services so far, Khedri said the Iranian market was facing certain challenges in 2015 due to the sanctions and the uncertainty about these being lifted.
However, the situation is improving and more people are welcoming the services day by day, he added.
Another challenge is the fact that many Iranian businessmen are still not very familiar with Oman’s market, he noted.
According to Khedri, the re-export structure and infrastructure in Oman need to be improved as Iran needs re-export of products.
Asked if the company has any plans to connect more Iranian and Omani ports, he said the company has been approached by several parties and the services can be started if the minimum amount of cargo is available.
He said comprehensive support has been provided by the Iranian authorities, including the Iranian Embassy in Oman, the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade as well as the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
However, the most important thing is that cargos should be available for transport which necessitates that Iranian traders become familiar with Oman’s market, he stated.
Khedri Jahan Darya Company provides marine transportation services in Iran’s territorial waters, the Gulf, the Caspian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. It also offers customs clearance and multimodal transportation services.
The company owns a fleet capable of transporting dry and refrigerated containers and can handle hazardous and bulk cargos.
Supporting small companies
Khedri said the company has launched an export management company to support small and medium-sized companies.
These companies account for around 70 per cent of Iran’s market and their products need to be exported, he said, adding that they do not have many employees and it may not be financially viable for them to export their products directly given the size of their budget.
“So we are paving the way to do marketing for these companies so that they can sell their products in Oman,” he stated.
Asked about other projects that have been implemented in cooperation with Oman, Khedri said the company has helped Oman establish a first-of-its-kind hydroponic greenhouse, which allows for growing plants using only water, without soil.
It has been a successful project and will hopefully be expanded with the cooperation of the Omanis, he added.
In addition, Mohammad Mohammadzadeh, chairman of Rah Abrisham Marine Shipping Agency, which is affiliated with Marine Silk Road Holding, said the existing opportunities in Iran and Oman need to be introduced to both sides.
There is great untapped potential for cooperation between the two countries in various areas which should be utilised, he noted.
Rah Abrisham Marine Shipping Agency is a representative of liner shipping services between Iran and Oman. It offers comprehensive customs clearance and transportation services in the ports of Iran and Oman.
It provides specialised consultancy services for commercial activities in Iran, Oman and Northeast Africa as well as transport, customs clearance, warehousing and transit services in Iran and Oman.
The company also offers re-export services from and to Iran, break-bulk services, cruise services, cargo handling, husbandry services, clearing and forwarding and roll-on/roll-off (RORO) services.