Our outlook for the Iranian freight transport sector is gloomy for 2013, on the back of the continued issues presented by Western sanctions, imposed in a bid to halt the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear development programme. We forecast that air freight volumes and container volumes at the premier port, Bandar Abbas, will fall just as the country's real GDP will endure a second consecutive year of contraction. We envisage road and rail freight volumes remaining positive, however, aided by Iran's transit role between East and West.
Headline Industry Data
- 2013 port of Bandar Abbas throughput is forecast to contract by 25.0%, but will return to growth of 3.1% in 2014.
- 2013 road freight volumes forecast to grow by 1.7% and are projected to average 5.6% over the forecast period to 2017.
- 2013 rail freight tonnes-km is forecast to grow by 0.6%, and is projected to average 2.1% growth per annum over the forecast period to 2017.
- 2013 air freight tonnes-km is forecast to contract by 1.8% and to average growth of 0.5% a year to 2017.
- 2013 total trade is forecast to experience a real contraction of 20.5% in 2013, followed by a return to growth of 9.5% in 2014, and averaging 1.1% to 2017.
Key Industry Trends
Low-Speed Rail Affects Exports, Minister Claims: Iran's exports have been affected by low-speed rail transport system in the country, reported Iranian news in July, citing Iran Chamber of Commerce vice chairman Gholamhossein Shafei. The average speed of rail transport in Iran is 12-15km per hour and the government is considering stopping the transit of goods via the Central Asian countries.
Iranian Sanctions Are Potential Upside For Iraqi Ports: Iran's shipping sector is increasingly under fire from US sanctions, with further measures set to come into force from July 1 having prompted many of the few remaining container shipping lines still calling into Iranian ports to have pulled their services. Two major South Korean lines have now bowed out, leaving only TS Lines of major carriers still calling at the country's ports, and even local feeder services are also now removing themselves.
Cosco, China Shipping Drop Iran Service: The Chinese shipping services providers Cosco Container Lines and China Shipping Container Lines at the start of July both confirmed that they were to cease operations in Iran. The decision was made after the US government announced new sanctions on the country, which came into force on July 1 2013.
Key Risks To Outlook
There are numerous risks to our outlook and forecasts for Iran, largely stemming from the country's alleged nuclear weapons development programme, and the effect the Western sanctions targeting this have on the country's trade and economy. Should these be strengthened still further, or should Iran return to negotiations in a significant manner and sanctions are slackened, then upside or downside risk elements could come into play. The election of a new, moderate President in the form of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013 offers scope for a more rapid return to the negotiating table than under the administration of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.