Iran's state-run shipping company said it started its first transfer of Russian goods to India, using a new trade corridor that transits the Islamic Republic, an Iranian port official has said to Bloomberg.
The Chabahar port in Iran and the transcontinental trade route that originates from that country, have received renewed interest from Iran and New Delhi, on increasing overland trade with Russia. The issue has been a core point of discussion during the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to Delhi, reported Money Control.
Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar located in southeastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman. It serves as Iran's only oceanic port, and consists of two separate ports named Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti, each of which has five berths.
In May 2016, India and Iran signed a bilateral agreement in which India would refurbish one of the berths at Shahid Beheshti port, and reconstruct a 600 meter long container handling facility at the port.
Following the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran, foreign companies became reluctant to participate in the port's expansion, and only 10% of the port's 8.5 million-ton total capacity was utilized in 2019. Sanctions also played a role in reducing India's involvement and investment in the US$1.6 billion Chabahar–Zahedan railway.
Opening a long-pending multi-modal transportation corridor via Iran will be a big boost for bilateral trade between Russia and India, but it’s not just the economy at stake. This is a bold move against the threat of US sanctions.
India’s state-owned Container Corporation of India (Concor) and Russian Railways Logistics Joint Stock Company (RZD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to transport cargo between India and Russia – based on a single invoice – via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200-km multi-modal transportation network project cutting right across Central Asia, starting in Iran and ending in Astrakhan, Russia.
Since Russia was sanctioned over its war on Ukraine, Iranian officials have been keen to revive a stalled project to develop the so-called North-South Transit Corridor that uses Iran to link Russia to Asian export markets. The plan involves eventually building a railroad line that can transfer goods arriving at Iranian Caspian Sea ports to the southeastern port of Chabahar.
(with inputs from agencies)