Sputnik – The 570 tonnes of goods were originally shipped from Zaranj, in western Nimroz province of Afghanistan on 24 February. Flagging off the shipment, President Ashraf Ghani expressed hope that with the opening of the Chabahar route, the country’s exports to India would increase to $2 billion in the next one year.
The first shipment from landlocked Afghanistan through the Iranian Chabahar port has arrived in India, marking a new beginning of trade ties between the two countries, bypassing Pakistan. The cargo arrived at the Mumbai and Mundra port Wednesday morning under the TIR (“Transports Internationaux Routiers”) Convention that enables shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders.
TIR will play a pivotal role in improving ease of doing business and pave the way for smoother and safer transport of goods across international borders and will help boost trade between India, Central Asia, Europe and Russia. It will act as a strong catalyst for moving goods using the multi-modal transportation route like Chabahar and International North-South Transport (INSTC) Corridor”, Dilip Chenoy, secretary general, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told the media after receiving the shipment.
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. The agreement aimed at developing the southern Iranian port into a regional trade hub.
Chabahar port, inaugurated in 2017, has been built largely by India and provides a key supply route for Afghanistan while allowing India to bypass rival Pakistan to trade with Central Asia. Most of Afghanistan’s imports and exports currently go through Pakistan, which Kabul accuses of harbouring the Afghan Taliban. The US State Department in November 2018 exempted the Chabahar port project from its sanctions on Iran in recognition of its importance to war-torn Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s exports to India reported an increase of 40 percent after the launch of an air corridor between Kabul and New Delhi in 2017. On 11 March 2019, India and Afghanistan operationalised another air corridor between Herat and New Delhi that is expected to further boost the bilateral trade.