Economy, Domestic Economy

Unlocking Trade Potential Among Caspian States

Unlocking Trade Potential Among Caspian StatesUnlocking Trade Potential Among Caspian States

During a meeting between the ambassadors of Caspian Sea littoral states to Iran and Anzali Free Trade Zone Managing Director Reza Masrour in Gilan Province on Thursday, the participants discussed avenues of cooperation and solutions for boosting trade in the region.

According to Masrour, trade among the Caspian states is currently way below the potential, IRNA reported.

The Iranian official suggested the establishment of a “Caspian Free Trade Zones Cooperation Council” to help the FTZs set preferential tariff rates and boost trade and cooperation.

He added that plans are underway to turn Anzali into Caspian Sea’s strategic trade hub in the upcoming years, referring to the government’s efforts in establishing North-West and China-Aktau-Anzali transport corridors and development of the FTZ’s port and rail infrastructure as constructive steps toward expanding and developing the FTZ.

Masrour also mentioned plans to establish an exclusive mercantile exchange in Anzali and connecting it to Caspian Sea littoral states’ bourses.

Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Iran Javanshir Akhundov described the recent developments of Anzali as “considerable and tangible”, and suggested the establishment of a joint commission for organizing and planning trade in the Caspian Sea.

“We have to set big goals and utilize all our capabilities to achieve them,” he said.

Akhundov added that cooperation between the regional countries has so far been only limited to trade, and the potential in other sectors, especially the mining sector, has remained untapped.

Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ambassadors also emphasized the untapped trade potential of Caspian states and called for making joint investments in the regional FTZs, promoting tourism by developing the required infrastructure and cooperation in manufacturing port and shipping equipment to expand trade in the region.

Anzali enjoys close proximity to Astrakhan and Lagan ports in Russia, Krasnodesk Port in Turkmenistan, Aktau Port in Kazakhstan and Baku in Azerbaijan. It is also located on the North-South transport corridor, enabling it to have quick access to Commonwealth of Independent States. A 20-year tax exemption for foreign investors, the possibility of establishing completely foreign-owned firms and duty-free import of raw materials and factory equipment are among other advantages of the FTZ.