Domestic Economy

Golden Gateway to Europe

Golden Gateway to EuropeGolden Gateway to Europe

Maku Free Trade Zone located near Bazargan border with Turkey in the northwestern province of West Azarbaijan is the most suitable gateway for trade with Europe, according to director general of the FTZ, Hossein Forouzan.

Established in 2013 in an area of 5,000 square kilometers Maku is the country’s largest free zone, providing many advantages for trade with Turkey and European countries.

Currently, Bazargan is the only Iranian ground border for trading between Turkish and Iranian businessmen. The border recorded total trade of about $15 billion during the past Iranian year (ended March 20), of which $6 billion pertained to transit cargo from European countries, crossing Iran to Turkmenistan and Iraq.

Director of Customs and Transit of Maku, Akbar Nobakht said on Friday that total trade between Turkey and the FTZ is expected to double to reach $30 billion in the near future, IRNA reported.

In addition to acting as a trade gateway, Maku has also been successful in establishing industrial projects and boosting production within the free zone. According to Forouzan, 55 industrial units and one industrial town are currently active in the zone, of which five have been established in collaboration with Turkish investors.

More than 136,000 tons of goods worth $85 million were exported from Maku to Turkey last year.  Also, more than 48,000 tons of cargo valued at $29 million were exported during the first four months of the current Iranian year.

Maku is also rich in mineral resources. Earlier this year, Maku Free Zone Organization signed a 15-million dollar contract with India’s Kaby Alloy Company for building a ferroalloy producing factory in the zone. Raw materials including silicon and manganese for this project will be extracted from mines in the region.

India is not the only Asian country interested in investing in Maku. Back in April, director of China’s international company AVIC signed a contract with the FTZ officials for building a 1,600 megawatt power plant in four phases in the region.

Total investments by the Chinese company will amount to $1.6 billion, but it initially plans to invest $500 million in the first and second phases of the power plant. The power plant will produce 120 MW in the first phase and 500 MW in the second.

Maku is also hoping to attract more tourists by improving road and air access. According to Forouzan, the first phase of Maku Airport will become operational by October this year. “Currently, 80% of the runway construction has been completed and the airport will be handled to the Civil Aviation Organization in two months,” he said.

Development of Tabriz-Bazargan highway and construction of an export terminal in a 16,000 square-meter area with the capacity to handle up to 500 trucks are among other infrastructure projects underway in Maku Free Trade Zone.