India has vowed its commitment to development works at Iran’s port of Chabahar as a top Indian minister says the port will remain key to New Delhi’s plans to boost trade with landlocked countries in Central Asia.
India’s Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said on Sunday that India would work toward building an economical, faster, shorter trade route via Chabahar with the Central Asian countries.
“This will rationalize our logistics cost, which will contribute towards the trade volume between the two regions,” said Sonowal during an event called “Chabahar Day” held in the Indian city of Mumbai and attended by high-level diplomatic delegation from the Central Asia region.
The minister said that Iran’s Chabahar port would provide unique opportunities for shipping and logistics companies seeking to become active on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).
Under a 10-year agreement with Iran, India has committed to develop and operate the Shahid Beheshti terminal in Chabahar, located on the Sea of Oman in southeast Iran.
However, Iranian authorities say the pace of India’s works in Chabahar has not been satisfactory despite the fact that New Delhi has received exemptions from American sanctions on Iran to be able to develop the port.
Political developments in Afghanistan, a main trade partner on the Chabahar route, also caused delays to India’s terminal development plans in the port.
That comes as Iran has continued to build the required infrastructure needed to increase activity in Chabahar, including a major railway connecting the port to Zahedan near the border with Afghanistan while it has re-routed major bulk and container shipments to the port from established trade gateways in the Persian Gulf.