By: Y. Mustafa
Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar on March 4 proposed the inclusion of Iran’s Chabahar Port in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and invited Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to join the multi-lateral corridor project, ANI reported.
Addressing the virtual “Chabahar Day” event organized on the margins of the Maritime India Summit 2021, Jaishankar said, “INSTC is an important trade-corridor project, wherein India is partnering with 13 countries to establish the economic-corridor for the benefit of our people. We also welcome Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to join the multi-lateral corridor project. Establishing an Eastern Corridor through Afghanistan will maximize its potential.”
“India has proposed for inclusion of Chabahar port in the INSTC corridor. I am hopeful that during the INSTC Coordination Council Meeting, member-states will agree to the expansion of the INSTC corridor to include the Chabahar port and also agree on expanding the membership of this project,” he informed.
INSTC is a 7200-kilometer ship, rail, and road corridor for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
The members of this INSTC project are India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, and Bulgaria (observer).
“The move reflects India’s strong commitment to work together with all regional stakeholders to enhance connectivity in our region and to provide unhindered access to the sea, to land-locked Central Asian countries through Chabahar Port,” said Jaishankar.
The Chabahar port, where an Indian state-run firm – India Ports Global Limited operates Shahid Beheshti Port, is an important initiative to enhance connectivity to Afghanistan and the Central Asian states.
The port played an important role in shipping humanitarian aid to Afghanistan amid the COVID-19 pandemic as well as helped Iran to fight the locust invasion recently.
Besides the Indian exports of food products, the port has also handled several shipments and trans-ships from Russia, Brazil, Thailand, Germany, Ukraine, and the UAE.
“This event (Chabahar Day) also commemorates five years of the signing of a tripartite agreement on the establishment of a trilateral transport and transit corridor. This agreement is a fitting tribute to the rich civilization, cultural and trade links between India, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia,” said Jaishankar.
Maritime connectivity, in particular, has played a significant role in creating regional corridors for trade and economic linkages, as indeed for cultural and intellectual exchanges over the centuries.
The access of land-locked economies to maritime movements has therefore been a particular focus of recent initiatives, the minister said.
It was during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran in 2016 that the tri-lateral agreement to establish an international transport and transit corridor was signed by India, Iran, and Afghanistan.
The transport and transit corridor was intended to ensure the unhindered flow of commerce throughout the region and to create a safe, secured, and reliable route to trade initially with Afghanistan and thereafter with Central Asia as a whole.
By: Y. Mustafa