Chabahar Port Opens, Connects India to Afghanistan via Iran

Katrina Barker
December 5, 2017

The ministers at the inauguration also commended the shipment of the first cargo through Chabahar, from India to Afghanistan, which comprised 110,000 tons of wheat.

Apart from the rise in maritime trade, the port's strategic location gives India access to two overland trade routes: The Trilateral Transport and Transit Corridor (TTTC), which heads north through Afghanistan, and onward into Central Asia, and the North-South Transport Corridor, which uses Iranian infrastructure to pass into Azerbaijan, and through it to Russian Federation and Europe. Yesterday, the port was inaugurated by the Iranian president. This pact allows Afghanistan to use Chahbahar port to ship its goods to markets like India, thereby reducing its dependence on Pakistan and its Karachi port.

Analysts say the Chabahar port could challenge Pakistan's Gwadar port, some 80 kilometers from Chabahar, which is being developed with Chinese investment.

In a major step forward, the first phase of Iran's Chabahar port, which holds significant strategic and economic importance for India, was launched on Sunday. Besides bilateral issues, Swaraj and Zarif are understood to have had discussions on regional and political developments in the Gulf region. Agreed upon in 2000 and ratified in 2002 by the three founding members, India, Iran and Russian Federation, the original multimodal route-from Mumbai in India to Bandar Abbas and Bandar-e-Anzali in Iran, then across the Caspian Sea to Astrakhan, Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia-did not see much traction given sanctions on Iran.

Over a month ago, India had sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan by sea through the Chabahar port in Iran.

The Indian government has committed $500 million to Chabahar, with the aim of joining an increasingly important transport corridor to resource-rich regional countries, according to Indian sources.

The statement said, "The completion of the internal procedures on the ratification process by Iran is expected to lead to full and early operationalisation of the Transit and Trade arrangement between the three countries though the Chabahar port... It was also chose to convene an expert-level meeting of senior officials of the three countries at the earliest", the joint statement said.

Secondly, with India's ever increasing demand for natural gas and crude oil, the port could be a door for the country to import both resources from Iran and Central Asia.

The project was officially opened in a ceremony attended by 60 foreign guests from 17 countries at the port located by the Sea of Oman.

In a surprise visit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday stopped over in Tehran for a short lunch meeting with her counterpart Javad Zarif.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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