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Iran says sanctions caused a boom in port operation capacity

Iran’s minister of transportation says cargo handling capacity at ports south and north of the country has increased despite the American sanctions that sought to cripple the country’s maritime sector.

Mohammad Eslami said on Thursday that Iran’s maritime transport had made a good deal of progress since the sanctions on Iran were enacted last year.

Eslami said foreign port operators withdrew some 85,000 containers from the Iranian ports once the sanctions were imposed in November. However, he said that a modern factory enjoying the latest international standards had already started manufacturing containers inside Iran.

“… It was thought that our maritime transport would be crippled … the performance of the maritime sector is not comparable to the past” said the minister, adding that cargo handling capacity in the ports had increased by nearly 10 times over the past years.

Eslami said a plan to expand and automate terminals serving large dry bulk ships in Shaid Rajaee Port, located in southern Iran, was going on smoothly.

He said the government would support the $430mn project, which is awarded to a private contractor and seeks to help increase export of Iran’s raw mining products, through providing ships and vessels needed at the site.

The comments came hours after authorities in the southwestern port city of Khoramshahr opened a new medium-sized container terminal.

The ILNA news agency said more than $15 million had been invested in the construction of the new terminal, which covers an area of 15 hectares and is equipped with reach and empty stackers for handling various sizes of containers.

The increased activity at Iran’s ports come as the country seeks to boost trade to offset the impacts of the sanctions on direct sale of oil.

Iran has reported higher volumes of exports for petrochemicals and mining products over the past months. Experts believe number of shipments would further increase as the governments are making a considerable investment in refining and mining sectors.