TEHRAN- Commodities valued at $235 million were exported from Aras Free Trade-Industrial Zone (AFZ) in Iran’s northwestern province of East Azarbaijan during the first half of the present Iranian calendar year (March 21-September 22), the managing director of Aras Free Trade-Industrial Zone Organization announced.

 

Majid Kiani said that the exports from Aras Free Zone include four sectors: definite export, export of domestic goods, re-export, and export to the mainland.

The export of domestic goods from the zone in the first half of this year was 30 million dollars, which has grown by three percent compared to the same period of time in the previous year. Also, the re-export shows an increase of 11 percent compared to the past year, he added.

In mid-August, the previous secretary of Iran's Free Zones High Council said that the trade balance of the country’s free trade zones has become $35 million positive for the first time in 30 years.

According to Saeid Mohammad, there are currently 15 free trade zones and 33 special economic zones active in the country and the necessary licenses have also been obtained for the establishment of 79 new special economic zones.

The official noted that although the overall trade balance of the free trade and special economic zones together has always been positive, but this is the first time that the foreign trade balance of the free trade zones becomes positive separately.

Underlining the important role that free trade and special economic zones play in the country’s economic growth, Mohammad said: “The main function of free zones is to facilitate export, production, foreign exchange, entry of new technologies and promotion of knowledge-based companies.”

According to Mohammad, 360 trillion rials (about $1.24 billion) of investment has been made in the country’s free trade zones in the past Iranian calendar year 1400 (ended on March 20).

Aras Free Trade-Industrial Zone is located in the northwest of Iran at the border point with neighboring Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

Establishment of free trade zones (FTZs) in Iran dates back to Iranian calendar year 1368 (March 1989 - March 1990) following the fall in the country’s oil income in the preceding year which prompted the government to promote the non-oil exports.

The first two free trade zones of Iran were established in the south of country. The first one was Kish Free Trade Zone established in 1368 on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf and the second one was Qeshm Free Trade Zone established the year after on Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz. 

Some five other free trade zones have been also established in the country since then, including Chabahar in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Arvand in southwestern Khuzestan Province, Anzali in northern Gilan Province, Aras in East-Azarbaijan Province and Maku in West-Azarbaijan Province, both in the northwest of the country. 

Development of existing free trade zones and establishment of new FTZs has become one of the major economic approaches of Iranian government.