“Around 500 tons of rice which were bought from India have arrived in Chabahar this week. Exports have also started through Chabahar,” Deputy Chairman of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) Khanjan Alokozay said on Friday.
Noting that this is the first Indian cargo sent to Afghanistan through Chabahar, the official said in line with the plans to boost regional connectivity, Afghanistan is ready to send its second shipment to India via Chabahar.
Afghanistan sent its first cargo, containing 570 tons of commodities, via the Iranian strategic port in late February, under the TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) Convention that enables shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders.
According to Alokozay, despite the US’ sanctions against Iran, Afghan and Indian traders have not become reluctant in trading through the port.
Meanwhile, a number of economic analysts said Chabahar port can play a significant role in the expansion of trade between Afghanistan, Iran and India.
The experts said the involved governments should resolve the technical problems exist in the port.
“It is a big transit route and we also want to expand our trade ties with Iran. It is a big income source that connects Afghanistan with Iran and South Asia,” said Esmatullah Ishaqzai, an economic expert.
Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean. In May 2016, Iran and India signed a deal to equip and operate containers and multi-purpose terminals at Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar with the capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $ 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.
Early in March, the Indian operator (IGPL) of Chabahar announced that it was planning to invest $500 Million over the next 10 years in the port.
The representative of the Iranian partner of the IGPL Alireza Jahan said that Indian Joint operator of Chabahar Port is committed to investing $500 Million over the next 10 years to equip the port of Chabahar with special loading and unloading harbor machinery.
Jahan said when Chabahar-Milk and Qazvin-Rasht railways are connected to Iran’s national railway network, Chabahar Port will have a bigger share in the Asian transportation market.
The IGPL has been tasked with administering and running the terminal of the first phase of ‘Beheshti harbour’ at Chabahar Port in Southeastern Iran.
The IGPL also officially is in charge of navigation in the port of Chabahar from January with $85 million investment.
Supplying the equipment for development of the port by the Indian company was also on the meeting’s agenda.
Early in January, India’s Shipping Ministry officially announced that the country has officially taken over the Chabahar port during the Trilateral Agreement meeting in the port on December 24, 2018.
“The Government of India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar, in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held there on December 24, 2018,” the Shipping Ministry said in a statement.
The heads of Indian, Iranian and Afghanistan delegation jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian SPV – India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at Chabahar.
“The physical take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and Office building was completed by December 29, 2018,” the statement said.
“This step marks the beginning of a long journey. India has written a history with its engagement in Chabahar and is now leading the regional cooperation and joint efforts to support land locked Afghanistan. This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territories,” the Indian government’s statement said.
India started interacting with Iran on Chabahar Port around 2003 but a major push was received in the second half of 2014, resulting in the signing of an MoU between the two countries.
The statement added that the challenges facing the contract between Iran and India were resolved through a formal short term contract between the two sides which was signed on May 6, 2018 during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to New Delhi.