Chabahar port phase-I opens, to boost India-Iran trade

Chabahar port phase-I opens, to boost India-Iran trade

Chabahar: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani poses during the inauguration a newly built extension of the port of Chabaha, near the Pakistani border, on the Gulf of Oman, southeastern Iran, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. With Iran in the dock for its suspect nuclear programme and India keen to see its civil nuclear pact with the United States tied up (the agreement was finally signed in 2008), discussions on the port development went slow.

Under the agreement signed between India and Iran in May last year, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of Dollars 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.

The three Ministers welcomed the inauguration of Phase-1 of the Chabahar Port by the President of Iran earlier in the day.

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.

In late October, India shipped its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan from the western Indian port of Kandla.

The Chabahar port's development was accelerated after Tehran signed the nuclear pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with Washington and five other major powers in 2015 to put curbs on its disputed nuclear programme in exchange for relief from punishing economic sanctions.

Chabahar Port is an interconnector between South-East Asia, Central Asia and Afghanistan.

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The inauguration comes at a time when Pakistan is blocking access between India and Afghanistan.

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.

India has prepared massive investment plans, which will include a network of roads and railways at a cost of Dollars 15 billion, as part of its strategic push in the area.

After connecting Chabahar to Zahedan, the railroad will be linked to Zaranj in Afghanistan. "We welcome other ports in the region, we welcome Gwadar's development", he said.

"Chabahar should also have road, rail and airport to be all set for imports and exports", he added. 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.

First of all, the new port will allow India to counter the blockade created by Pakistan.

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