Chabahar to connect North-South Transport Corridor to Indian Ocean

Chabahar to connect North-South Transport Corridor to Indian Ocean

Chabahar to connect North-South Transport Corridor to Indian Ocean

Iran inaugurated a long-awaited new port at Chabahar in the southeast Sunday, which it is hoped will be a major new trade hub linking India and Africa with Central Asia.

Rouhani inaugurated the expansion, carried out with an investment of $1bn including $235mn from India, which has more than tripled the port's capacity to 8.5 million tonnes a year, state television reported.

The steps were announced in a joint statement after a trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, India and Iran to discuss the implementation of Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor at Chabahar.

27 delegates from India, Afghanistan and other Asian countries attended the inaugural ceremony of the port.

At a press conference last week, the head of Sistan-Baluchestan's Ports and Maritime Bureau said costs for each 20-foot container were $1,000 lower if transported through Chabahar to Afghanistan compared with the Pakistan route.

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

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It is speculated the port will still take a year to be fully functional and benefit the trio as per the plan.

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.

In 2010, when Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a connectivity pact on transit trade, it was expected that would be extended to India to allow Indian goods to pass through Pakistan.

The first part of India's construction is scheduled to be finished in 2018. The development of Chabahar Port is a driving force for the country's economic development, especially the South East, and port operations can create added value and employment in the south-east of Iran. India has already completed the Zaranj-Delaram highway in Afghanistan, which would facilitate the trade to Kabul and eventually to Central Asia.

Once the project is complete, Chabahar will be linked with the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which now stretches from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the Gulf to Russia, Eurasia and Europe. The ministers agreed to further intensify efforts on issues concerning regional connectivity and to focus on Chabahar Port development under the May 2016 Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement. "It also shows the importance of the port in the development of the region and the routes that connect Central Asian states to other countries in the world through the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean", he said.

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