By: Monitoring Desk
Afghanistan is looking at the Chabahar port in Iran to tap overseas market to help boost its war-torn economy as the nearby Karachi port is out of bound for the landlocked nation.
Chabahar is the only seaport Iran has in its energy-rich Sistan-Balochistan province by the Gulf of Oman and consists of two ports with five berths each. The port is a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port which is being developed with the Chinese investment.
The port, inaugurated in December 2017, has opened a new strategic route connecting Iran with India and Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
In December 2017, India took over the operations of port and commissioned the second port this January, marking the country’s maritime entry into a foreign land. “The opening up of the Chabahar port has helped us venture into overseas markets. But we are facing challenges in terms of higher cost,” Afghanistan’s deputy minister of industries and commerce Muqaddesa Yourish said here Friday.
The major challenge is cost, as compared to the Karachi port, she said. Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised with the support of the USAID, she said, “US sanctions on Iran have hit our business as well.”
In February, Afghanistan began exports to India through Chabahar after the US allowed Kabul to use the port to ship food items, medicines and other essential items. But trade volume is yet to pick up because of higher transit cost, she added. Yourish also said economic problems facing Iran and Pakistan are also affecting Afghanistan. “Iranian and Pakistani economies are suffering from low growth and high inflation and I think inflation does cross borders and enters our markets as well,” he said.
She said that Afghanistan traders are interacting with their Indian counterparts to overcome the challenges of product guarantee and certifications that are needed to meet the quality standards, which are important for imports.