Abfa Engineering Services Exports Reach $700m 

Abfa Engineering Services Exports Reach $700m Abfa Engineering Services Exports Reach $700m 

The National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company (Abfa) has exported engineering and technical services worth $700 million during the last three years.

“Increasing the export of technical services requires active diplomacy to improve political ties with other countries, otherwise foreign enterprises will be willing neither to cooperate with Iranian companies nor to transfer their cutting edge know-how to the Persian Gulf state,” Bahram Fayyazi, the head of Water and Wastewater Association, told IRNA on Tuesday.

Noting fact that the exports were mostly targeted at Iraq, the official said security issues posed serious challenges for a majority of projects and Iraqi companies cannot meet their undue debts.

"Granting a loan by the Iranian government to firms active in Iraq helped them solve their liquidity problem to some extent, yet taking such drastic measures cannot have a lasting effect," he said.

Asked about the expansion of Iranian water and wastewater ventures abroad under the current economic climate, Fayyazi said, "As long as domestic companies cannot tackle their problems inside the country, being active overseas will definitely bear no fruit. Iran's energy services are being exported to more than 40 states and it can definitely experience a surge if they do not have to grapple with liquidity shortages all the time."

According to the official, lack of access to international markets, financial constraints and weak diplomatic relations with other states are among Abfa's main challenges.

On private sector's reluctance to invest and undertake electricity and water projects, Fayyazi said the sector has never been able to play a major role in the production sector due to the government's economic policies, which create no incentives to develop their initiatives.

"In spite of their high potential, most power and water manufacturing units have been working at half capacity for a long time because of financial restrictions and lack of dynamism. On the other hand, services will never run out and in fact grow in quality and quantity over time unless they cannot attract long-term investment," he said.

On budgetary difficulties, Fayyazi noted that 70% of the ongoing projects have liquidity problems and major water and wastewater enterprises have had to lay off their staff as they were in danger of collapse.

"Out of the total approved credit resources for water and wastewater firms, just 35% were allocated to them last year."

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Morteza Sarmadi, Iran has to seize the opportunities in neighboring countries to increase its export of engineering and technical services.

"Many countries in the region are in desperate need of engineering services for development, as they are trying to step out of years of conflict and internal crisis,” he said, noting that Iran can use the opportunities to supply the neighboring markets with high quality engineering services.

Describing the export of engineering services as “an important area in economic diplomacy”, Sarmadi said export of such services will not only raise the profile of Iranian products and companies but also enable them to compete with their foreign counterparts.