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Afghanistan begins export to India through Chabahar port

Afghanistan has begun exporting goods to India for the first time through Iran’s Chabahar port, bypassing the Pakistan route. Twenty-three trucks carrying 570 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from the western Afghan city of Zaranj to Chabahar in Iran.

Feb 26, 2019 11:45 IST
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Afghanistan on February 24, 2019 began exports to India through the Chabahar port in Iran. This is the first time Afghanistan has exported goods to India bypassing the Pakistan route.

The first consignment of exports to India was flagged off by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. While inaugurating the new route, the President said that the Chabahar port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan and it will ensure economic growth.

Key Highlights

According to reports, twenty-three trucks carrying 570 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from the western Afghan city of Zaranj to Chabahar in Iran.

The consignment will then be shipped from Chabahar to the Indian port city of Mumbai.

Afghanistan’s exports are expected to increase from $1 billion to $2 billion after the opening of the new trade route.

The Chabahar port is expected to help Afghanistan transform from an importer country into an exporter country.

Significance

The move marks the first time that Afghanistan has shipped goods to India through a newly developed Iranian seaport in a bid to improve exports and reduce reliance on routes through its uneasy neighbor, Pakistan.

For decades, the landlocked nation was forced to rely on Pakistan’s land and seaports for international trade.

However, mutual tensions in recent years significantly reduced Afghan trade and transit activities through Pakistan.

  Afghanistan begins export to India through Chabahar port

 

While Pakistan allows Afghanistan to use its seaports for international trade under a bilateral trade and transit agreement and also allows the use of overland routes for Afghan exports to India, the nation wants improvement in ties with India before it will allow Indian exports through the same routes back to Afghanistan.       

 

Background

India has played a huge role in the financing and development of Iran’s Chabahar Port in order to enable Kabul to get direct and easy sea trade access.

India took operational control of a portion of the Iranian port late last year for 18 months and plans to send cargo ships from its ports of Mumbai, Kandla and Mundra every two weeks.

The United States also last year waived off certain anti-Iran sanctions to allow the development of Chabahar to support efforts aimed at stabilising Afghanistan.

The waiver has enabled India, Iran and Afghanistan to continue their work to establish a new transit and transport corridor linking the three countries to help improve Afghan economy and allow the war-ravaged country to import food and medicines, bypassing Pakistan.

India successfully shipped 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port in 2017. In the same year, India also launched an air corridor with Kabul for bilateral trade.

According to Indian envoy to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, the air corridor has since helped increase Afghan’s exports to India by 40 per cent.

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