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Iran to launch 5 new free trade zones

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows trucks waiting for clearance at a yard of the customs office in Iran’s Dogharoun special economic zone on the border with Afghanistan.

The Iranian parliament has approved plans for launching five new free trade zones (FTZ) in north and east of the country.

The parliament on Monday allowed the government to prepare the required conditions for developing two major FTZs in Sarakhs and Dogharoun, areas on the border with Afghanistan.

Dogharoun, the gateway for official trade between Iran and Afghanistan for more than a century, will be developed as Iran’s largest FTZ in an area of around 8,700 hectares, said reports in the local media.

Establishing the zones in the eastern province of Razavi Khorasan is expected to help local economy in the normally underdeveloped regions across the border between Iran and Afghanistan as more investment will be attracted to the FTZs due to eased restrictions governing such areas.

According to the parliament bill passed on Monday, the Iranian government will also launch three FTZs in the northern province of Mazandaran, a hub for agriculture where exports of farming products to countries to north of Iran have increased over the past years.

The three new FTZs will be developed in port cities on the Caspian Sea, namely Amirabad, Fereydunkenar and Noshahr, said the media reports.

Some of the five Iranian locations approved to become FTZs had already served as special economic zones (SEZ).

Iran’s Guardian Council, which vets legislation by the parliament, should endorse the bill passed on new FTZs before its come into force.

Announcing new economic and trade zones in Iran come as the country seeks to boost trade with neighboring countries in a bid to access new sources of foreign currency and offset the impacts of a series of American sanctions that have hampered its sale of oil.

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