Economy, Domestic Economy

Chabahar Transit Project Moves Forward

Chabahar Transit Project Moves ForwardChabahar Transit Project Moves Forward

The first experts’ meeting on international transit cooperation among Iran, Afghanistan and India dubbed “Chabahar Agreement” wrapped up at Iran Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization on Tuesday.

Representatives of the three countries have agreed to convene in the Indian capital New Delhi to finalize the agreement in the near future, IRNA reported.

“Partnership with the regional governments and international organizations to expand transportation infrastructure is inevitable,” said Mohammad Javad Atrchian, director general of the organization’s Transit and Border Terminals Office.

“We believe regional collaboration in goods transit is a prerequisite to expansion of trade ties between the countries.”

Atrchian hoped that the meeting in New Delhi would pave the way for the quick launch of the Iran-India-Afghanistan Transit Corridor.

“Along with other international corridors—the North-South International Transit Corridor and the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran Road Corridor and the Ashgabat Agreement on International Transportation signed by Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Oman—the construction of the Iran-India-Afghanistan international transit corridor will not only promote the development of regional trade, but would also be an important historical event,” he said.

Atrchian noted that Iran is determined to tap into all its resources to bring Chabahar Agreement to fruition.

The Iranian official stressed that the transit corridor will lead to significant developments in the three countries’ relations and bring their people closer.

“We are looking at a trilateral transit memorandum of understanding,” India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha told The Times of India.

While India and Iran are developing Chabahar Port jointly, according to Sinha, Afghan businesses are investing in the adjacent free trade zone where Iran has allotted land for Afghan investors.

For India, Chabahar Port is an important initiative and a critical alternate trade route linking Afghanistan. The port was welcomed by all the regional partners of Afghanistan at the VI RECCA (Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan) conference held in Kabul on September 4.

India and Iran have already signed an MoU on Chabahar Port, which is likely to become operational by the end of next year. India and Iran want to increase the port’s capacity from the current 2.5 million tons to 12.5 million tons per year.

The transit corridor will also be significant for Afghanistan, with President Ashraf Ghani declaring that his country wants to revitalize the Silk Road and act as a regional hub for connecting South Asia with Central Asia.

Access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway can be made from Chabahar Port using the Iranian road network and Zaranj-Delaram Road constructed by India in 2009. This would establish a direct road to four of the major cities of Afghanistan–Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, the Afghan online website Khamaa Press reported.

Talks on the trilateral transit corridor started in 2013. Both Afghanistan and India are focusing on Chabahar and the trilateral transit corridor to reduce their dependence on Pakistan.