Russia's VTB Bank is looking to open in Iran's free trade zones, following a visit to Amirabad Port in north Iran, IRGC-linked Tasnim News Agency reported on October 4.
Banking relations between Iran and Russia have taken an upward direction following the imposition of sanctions on Russia in 2022 due to its war in Ukraine. VTB, Russia's second-largest bank, has been at the forefront of these evolving ties. In January 2023, the bank initiated a money transfer service to Iran, followed by the opening of an office in Tehran in June.
Amirabad Port, located on the Caspian shore, stands as the largest port facility of its kind and the third-largest in Iran. In August, parliament members approved a proposal to designate the port as a free trade zone.
Amirabad's strategic importance arises from its extensive facilities and its status as the sole northern port connected to Iran's railway network. It has gained recognition as a vital component of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), a multi-modal network facilitating the movement of cargo between Eastern Europe and South Asia via ships, rail, and roads.
The visit's primary objective was to explore opportunities for collaboration in development, investment, and the introduction of new banking services at Amirabad.
The Russian bank expressed its keenness to establish a presence in Iran's free trade and special economic zones, Tasnim said.
Both parties underscored the need to enhance trade routes between Iran and Russia, with a particular focus on Amirabad Port.
The discussion also delved into bilateral currency transactions to boost exports and simplify currency-related processes to safeguard the interests of goods owners.
The Russian delegation underscored the significance of Amirabad's Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) terminal for trade in the Caspian Sea.
Amirabad Port's Managing Director Mohammad Ali Mousapour elaborated on Iran's market presence in Russia and the investment prospects available at the port.
He expressed optimism that recent developments would enable Amirabad to play a more substantial role in the operations of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC).