Iran doubles number of free trade zones to 14 to increase international trade
Iran has doubled the number of its free trade zones (FTZs) to 14 as the country plans to significantly increase the amount of trade with other countries in a bid to diversify the economy away from oil revenues.
Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, the highest legislation vetting body in Iran, on Wednesday endorsed a parliamentary bill that had been overdue since 2018 for the creation of the new FTZs.
Trade in the Iranian FTZs enjoys lower tariffs compared to the mainland while manufacturers can benefit from certain privileges in the mostly border areas which are recognized in the Iranian law under the term Free Trade-Manufacturing Zones.
FTZs are different than the special economic zones (SEZs) of which Iran has created dozens in recent years.
The seven new FTZs approved by the Expediency Council on Wednesday included three on and near the Iraqi border, two on the northern border on either sides of the Caspian Sea, one near the border with Pakistan in east and one on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf.
The expediency council also allowed the creation of 13 new SEZs in 10 provinces across Iran.
Doubling the number of FTZs comes amid Iran’s plans to boost trade with neighbors and others as the government seeks to distance itself from oil revenues and rely more on income derived from sales of non-crude goods and products.
Iran reported a stable flow of foreign trade for the calendar year to March despite border closures and other restrictions that was caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East and around the world.