Often it’s the small steps that are taken that can have the biggest impact. I’m talking about the (overly) cautious rapprochement between Iran and its North American-European trade partners. The actual breakthrough for an end to sanctions and for free trade with the country rich in raw materials and a strong industry may still be ahead of us, but initial signs of positive developments can be observed.
There’s no dearth of ambitious projects in the region either. The ITI cargo train, whose operation was halted in 2010 for political reasons, is on its way back, for example. Once the remediation work for the lines of differing gauges has been completed, then there’ll be no more hurdles in the way of a new Eurasian railway connection from Istanbul to Islamabad via Tehran. The project managers believe in the opportunity to cover the 6,500 km in around twelve days. The service would thus be more than able to compete with the maritime option, which takes 35–40 days to sail from Mersin to Karachi. The modal split for certain types of goods is being reshuffled.
So there’s plenty of potential in the region. The political will has to follow. Shipping lines are getting support from shippers – as are airfreight operators, such as Qatar Airways Cargo, as you can glean from our interview on page 13. The post-Covid-19 boom is already partial reality. Enjoy your read!