Our outlook for the Iranian freight transport sector in 2014 is that the country will begin to see a return to growth in volumes, in part due to base effects, and in part due to the more moderate stance adopted by new President Rouhani, and the potential loosening of sanctions against the country. Although the ports and shipping continue to face significant challenges, rail freight continues to see strong investment.
Headline Industry Data
- 2014 port of Bandar Abbas throughput is forecast to return to growth at 3.1%, and to average 6.0% to 2018.
- 2013 road freight volumes forecast to grow by 4.6% and are projected to average 7.3% over the forecast period to 2018.
- 2014 rail freight tonnes-km is forecast to grow by 1.9%, and is projected to average 2.9% growth per annum over the forecast period to 2018.
- 2014 air freight tonnes-km is forecast to grow by 0.6% and to average growth of 1.0% a year to 2018.
- 2014 total trade is forecast to experience a real growth of 5.5% in 2014, and average 4.7% to 2018.
Key Industry Trends
IRISL Scores A Hollow Victory: BMI notes with interest that Iranian shipping company IRISL, formerly Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, may have the European Union (EU) sanctions against it lifted before the close of 2013, following a September decision by the body's courts that they are based on insufficient evidence. We caution, however, that even if the EU sanctions are lifted little will have in reality changed for the beleaguered shipping line, with US sanctions still firmly in place, along with the more general limitations on interaction with the Iranian state.
Iran To Link With Iraq: According to Iranian Railways Company Managing Director Abdol-Ali Saheb-Mohammadi, Iran's city of Khoramshar, in the province of Khuzestan, is to be linked by rail to the Iraqi city of Basra in three years.
Qeshm Air To Build Fleet: According to Babak Zanjani, owner of Iranian air company Qeshm Air, the airline is set to add 39 aircraft to its fleet in the coming year. Head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization Hamidreza Pahlevani said in March that nineteen airplanes were added to Iran's air fleet last year, meaning that the Qeshm Air fleet development would be a major move for the Iranian air sector, potentially providing a significant boost to Iranian air freight volumes.
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.