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Economic Ties on the Sea

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Arun Gupte, the outgoing managing director of Irano-Hind Shipping Co., has about 40 years of service with India’s state-owned shipping company, the largest shipping business of the country with a fleet exceeding 100 ships. “I will be retiring in September 2001 and I was very fortunate to be stationed in Iran at this stage,” he says wearing a smile of satisfaction.
Having served as general manager in charge of bulk carriers and tankers and later in charge of financing, he landed as managing director of Irano-Hind Shipping Company in 1999.
Referring to the company’s fine performance and profitability, Gupte states, “You’ll be surprised to know that by a joint investment of about $1 million, each of the founding partners of Irano-Hind Shipping Company have received about $10 million during the last 25 years.”
Here is Arun Gupte answering the questions of Iran International about Irano-Hind Shipping Co.

By a joint investment of about $1 million, each of the founding partners of Irano-Hind Shipping Company have received about $10 million during the last 25 years

Background: The cooperation between Iran and India in the shipping field dates back to 1974 when Mrs. Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, visited Iran and the two governments decided to form a shipping venture. As a result, Irano-Hind Shipping Co. was established in December 1974 and started operation in March 1975. Back then, the company had no ship of its own and started out with only one chartered vessel. By 1982, the company had 5 vessels and by 1997 it had about 12 vessels. After scrapping some old vessels, the process of renewal of the fleet started in 1997 and now the company continues its activities with a total of 8 ships. It was a challenging task to add two 43,000-ton bulk carriers in January 2001 and July 2001, which are the largest of the company’s fleet.
Today, Irano-Hind Shipping Co. is a joint venture between the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (51%) and the Shipping Corporation of India (49%). Every two years, the management of the company switches between Iranians and Indians. This company generated its own resources and used them to purchase its own ships. By doing this along with regular operation, Irano-Hind Shipping Co. has been able to provide good dividends to both its founding partners.

Objectives: Irano-Hind Shipping Co. was established with certain objectives. First, it aims to strengthen economic cooperation between India and Iran in the field of shipping. Second, the company endeavors to organize and operate a commercially-viable shipping service between the two countries. Third, it serves to impart training for both the shore and fleet staff of Iran given the fact that 25 years ago the Iranian shipping industry was not much built up as compared to the shipping industry in India.

Commercial Fleet: General cargoes and reefer cargoes have been widely carried to the region by Irano-Hind Shipping Co. These included commodities like tea, jute, pharmaceuticals, etc., in the general category and products like cheese, butter and chicken in the reefer category. Our reefer carriers transported a very large scale of such products from New Zealand, Holland and Brazil to Iran. As a matter of fact, Irano-Hind Shipping Co. served as the main carrier of such imports to Iran. It is noteworthy that during eight long years of war between Iran and Iraq, it was this company that maintained the supply of these essential commodities to Iran.

Looking Forward: As the parent companies of Irano-Hind Shipping Co. both grew and as the general cargoes generally took the shape of container cargoes, the competition in the shipping business became more severe for our company. However, the company maintains its regular trips between Iranian and Indian ports among other destinations. At the same time, organizing measures are being adopted for the company’s marketing with the help of agents in India and Iran. It also diverted into cross-trades and is looking forward to turn it into its main activity.
Irano-Hind Shipping Co. has also taken the initiative on a newly-developed route called the North-South Corridor. It is an operation for the transport of cargoes from India to Russia and other CIS countries via Iran. This initiative considerably saves time and cost.

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