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India and Iran Solidify Long-Term Agreement for Chabahar Port Development

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India and Iran Solidify Long-Term Agreement for Chabahar Port Development

Photo Source: @sarbanandsonwal

India and Iran have formally cemented a long-term contract for the development of Chabahar Port, following extensive negotiations.

Led by Indian Minister for Shipping, Sarbananda Sonowal, a delegation concluded the agreement during their recent visit to Tehran, marking a significant milestone in bilateral relations.

 

Transition to Stability: From Short-Term to Long-Term Deal

The bilateral agreement between Indian Ports Global Limited (IPGL) and the Port & Maritime Organisation (PMO) of Iran replaces the previous practice of one-year contracts, ensuring stability and paving the way for sustained development.

Minister Sonowal emphasized the historical significance, stating, “Today is a historic day for the maritime sector of the region as India and Iran signed this long-term agreement on Chabahar Port, heralding a new age of trade and marine cooperation as well as transshipment, while boosting trilateral trade among India, Iran, and Afghanistan.”

 

Significance and Vision: Quotes from Key Figures

Minister Sonowal highlighted Chabahar Port’s multifaceted significance, stating, “Chabahar Port’s significance transcends its role as a mere conduit between India and Iran. It serves as a vital trade artery connecting India with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.”

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed optimism about the agreement during his address at a NSE-ANMI seminar on ‘Indian Capital Markets, Roadmap for Viksit Bharat’ in Mumbai, stating, “We believe that as and when a long-term arrangement is concluded it would certainly clear the pathway for bigger investments to be made in ports.”

 

India’s Investment in Ports and Maritime

India has demonstrated a commitment to enhancing its maritime infrastructure and capabilities, recognizing the crucial role of ports in facilitating trade and economic growth.

Minister Sonowal’s visit to Tehran and the signing of the long-term agreement for Chabahar Port align with India’s broader strategy of investing in port development and modernization.

This investment is aimed at strengthening India’s position as a regional maritime hub and fostering greater connectivity with neighboring countries and beyond.

 

Investment and Procurement Plans

Under the agreement, India will procure essential equipment to enhance port operations, including reach stackers, forklifts, and pneumatic unloaders, reinforcing trade and investment opportunities.

Chabahar Port’s current capacity stands at handling more than 80,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of container traffic and over 8 million tonnes of bulk and general cargo since 2019, with plans to expand it to 18 million tonnes in the next phase.

 

Strategic Importance and Economic Potential

Located in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, Chabahar Port provides an alternative route to the Strait of Hormuz for cargo traffic between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.

Since 2019, the port has handled more than 80,000 TEUs of container traffic and over 8 million tonnes of bulk and general cargo, underscoring its economic potential and strategic significance.

 

Navigating Challenges: Progress amidst Hurdles

Despite initial enthusiasm, progress on Chabahar’s development faced obstacles, particularly due to sanctions on Iran.

However, the recent agreement reflects a renewed commitment towards enhancing regional connectivity and facilitating trade, notwithstanding geopolitical tensions.

 

Future Prospects: Strengthening Infrastructure and Connectivity

India aims to strengthen its presence in key infrastructure projects along the Persian Gulf route, with expectations of increased cargo handling at Chabahar Port.

Investments in the port’s expansion, coupled with its integration into transportation networks such as the Chabahar-Zahedan railway line, underscore India’s strategic objectives in the region.

The long-term agreement between India and Iran for the development of Chabahar Port comes as a significant step forward in bilateral cooperation. The Port could emerge as a critical conduit for trade and connectivity, promising mutual benefits for India, Iran, Afghanistan, and beyond.