First Afghan cargo convoy, destined for India, arrives at Chabahar Port

Chabahar Port in Iran’s south-eastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province, is a regional transport hub. It’s the first time that an Afghan cargo consignment is sent to India via Chabahar Port bypassing Pakistan.

25 February 2019
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Chabahar Port in Iran’s south-eastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province, is a regional transport hub. It’s the first time that an Afghan cargo consignment is sent to India via Chabahar Port bypassing Pakistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, accompanied by Iranian and Indian envoys, cuts off ribbon to see off first Afghan cargo consignment destined for India. (Photo: Office of Afghan President Arg presidential palace)

A transit corridor between Afghanistan, Iran and India has officially been inaugurated as the first cargo truck under TIR Convention has left for Iran’s Chabahar Port.

The multi-modal road and sea transport corridor was opened by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a high-level ceremony in the western city of Zaranj, the provincial capital of Nimruz on the Iranian border.

The route now gives Afghanistan access to international waters through Iran’s Chabahar Port, the first phase of which is being developed by India.

The export consignment, loaded in 23 trucks consisted of Afghan carpets, dry fruits, cotton, talc, stones and other items weighing 570 tonnes, Indian channel WION (World Is One) reports. It will be later shipped to India from the Chabahar Port that is situated in south-eastern Iranian Province of Sistan and Baluchistan.

Watch video: Lorries, loaded with Afghan goods, set off for Iran's Chabahar Port from Zaranj in western Afghanistan

 (Video: Office of the President of Afghanistan - ARG Presidential Palace on Twitter @ARG_AFG) 

It's also the first cargo dispatched on lorries under the international TIR Convention that is aimed at harmonising world road export by reducing paper work at customs between countries. 

Lorries, loaded with Afghan goods, set off for Iran's Chabahar Port from Zaranj in western Afghanistan (Video: Office of the President of Afghanistan - ARG Presidential Palace on Twitter @ARG_AFG) 

Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar, Iranian Ambassadors Mohammad Reza Bahrami, Turkish, Indonesian and Kazakh diplomats attended the ceremony.

"Afghanistan is no more a landlocked country. We’ve turned into an exporting country. We’re not only an importer any more ", Afghan president was cited by Afghan news agency Tolo news as saying.

A screenshot of a tweet by Afghan president's office about the opening ceremony of the Afghaninstan-Iran-India transit corridor (Office of the President of Afghanistan - ARG Presidential Palace on Twitter @ARG_AFG) 

He announced that an elite unit from Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), which is the Afghan intelligence agency, will be deployed to protect the route that leads to Chabahar from Nimruz to ensure the safe flow of goods while meeting provincial council members in the province.

He also said that the people of Nimruz play a substantial role in guaranteeing export and import of goods from Afghanistan to Chabahar and beyond.

"It is a landmark event to provide access for the Afghan exporters to the large Indian market to build on the success of air corridor which has already helped increase Afghan exports to India by more than forty per cent," said Indian envoy Vinay Kumar.

A screenshot of a tweet by Indian Embassy in Afghanistan about the opening ceremony of the Afghaninstan-Iran-India transit corridor (Photo: Indian Embassy in Afghanistan @IndianEmbKabul)

Afghanistan has a huge trade surplus with India, the only such surplus for Afghans with any country, according to WION.  

Bilateral trade between India and Afghanistan has seen a quantum jump of over 40% in 2018-19, reaching one billion dollars. Afghan exports to India stood at 740 million dollars last year, Indian media reports.  

The Iranian envoy called the corridor “result of the will of the three countries.” He said the Chabahar Port can also be used by other countries to develop trade. 150 Aghan businesses have invested 50 million dollars in Chabahar Port.

The lorries are set to arrive in Chabahar Port on Tuesday 26 February when Iran is set to celebrate Chabahar Day. The event is set to attract investment for the port. Secretary of the Shipping Ministry of India will lead the Indian delegation with Confederation of Indian Industry taking a strong business delegation of 30 Indian companies.

A screenshot of a map showing how Chabahar Port in Iran can link India with Afghanistan ande vice versa  

The Chabahar project is a major connectivity program which will help India connect not only with landlocked Afghanistan but also central Asia. The project is also part of the International North-South Corridor that will connect Mumbai to Moscow via Iran and Azerbaijan.

India has already established shipping links with the port with Indian ships going there every 2 weeks from 3 Indian portsMumbai, Kandla and Mundra. Commercial operations at the port began on 30th December 2018 with India formally taking over operations of a part of the Shahid Beheshti Port on 24th December 2018.

In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement on the establishment of a Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as the regional hub for sea transportation.

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