The Port of Barcelona promotes trade with Iran
Iran is enjoying significant economic growth, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting annual GDP growth of 4% up to 2020. The country suffered various economic sanctions that isolated its economy and curbed industrial, technology and services development. Today, the government, employers and citizens are committed to opening up to the world.
The country has huge natural resources: it is the fourth country worldwide in oil reserves and the second in those of natural gas. It is one of the major world exporters of refined petroleum products and is developing its natural gas industry, which offers great opportunities for foreign investors. With this energy potential, Iran today has a high capacity for electricity production, which allows it to export electricity to five neighbouring countries, and burgeoning industrial development that has made it a leading regional producer of cement and steel, among other products.
The country also has considerable human resources: 80 million inhabitants with a mostly young population (55% are under 35) and a percentage of university graduates much higher than that of neighbouring countries. Iranian society is open and has a large middle class that demands quality products.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted in June 2010 following suspicions that Iran was in the process of enriching uranium, placed a prohibition on providing financial services, commercial services, etc. to companies in the country and specifically forbade vessels under the Iranian flag to operate in the ports of other countries. The lifting of these sanctions last year opened a new scenario for trade.
Offer of regular shipping lines
The Port of Barcelona took good care to continue its business relationship with the Iranian shipping company HDAS Lines (Hafez Darya Arya Shipping Lines), which belongs to the IRISL Group (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines) during the years of sanctions.
Once the sanctions were lifted, the IRISL shipping company, which had operated regular lines with Barcelona, started working regularly again with the Port in February 2016. Today, the Iranian flag shipping company connects Barcelona weekly with the main Iranian port, Bandar Abbas, and from there, with the other Iranian ports: Bushehr, Khoramshahr, Bandar Imam Khomeini, Assaluyeh, Kish, Qeshm and Chabahar with a transit time of 22–24 days.
Over the last year, the world's major shipping companies have opened new services connecting Barcelona with the Iranian ports: Messina Line, which had operated in the Persian country during the sanctions years, CMA-CGM, HAPAG-LLOYD, UASC, MSC, Maersk and HMM (Hyundai Merchant Marine), most of which have transit times of 25-30 days and transshipment at the port of Jebel Ali (Dubai).
Iranian industry today offers great business opportunities for importers and exporters. Similarly, the country is a large market that is opening up to the world and offers enormous possibilities for Catalan, Spanish and European companies.
Trans Middle East
The Port of Barcelona also maintains an active presence in the Middle East transport and logistics fairs. The most recent example is its participation at the Trans Middle East Conference in 2017, which is the region's main port fair, held in Tehran last January. The meeting brought together 400 executives and heads of ports (port operators and managers), ship owners, freight forwarders, logistics companies, railway operators, importers and exporters, associations, etc. from the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf.
The Port's presence at the fair aimed partly to strengthen the business relationship with the Middle East market. In this regard, the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia area has key traffic in liquid bulk (oils and chemicals) with Barcelona and is experiencing significant growth in container and new vehicle traffic.
Also, coinciding with the organisation of the fair in Tehran, the Port wanted to emphasize its support for Iranian and Catalan companies interested in establishing business relations, making available the wide range and high quality of logistics services that make Barcelona as Europe's southern gateway and Mediterranean distribution hub.
Hispano-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The work that the Port of Barcelona is doing to recover traffic with Iran is being supported by initiatives within its Port Community, such as opening the new Catalonia delegation of the Hispano-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The office came on stream in late 2016 and supports companies wishing to trade with Iran, particularly by promoting the initiatives of small and medium-sized businesses.
The delegation of the Iranian chamber is headed by Leovigildo Pareja, president of the company LeoProex International Freight Forwarders, which has committed to providing specific services between Barcelona and Iran, and is located in the Blau Port building located in the Port of Barcelona.