India on February 1, 2018 joined the Ashgabat agreement, which envisages the establishment of an international transport and transit corridor linking Central Asia with the Persian Gulf to significantly ramp up trade and investment.
The agreement was originally signed on April 25, 2011, among the four founding members - Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with an aim to set up a trade and transit corridor between them.
The External Affairs Ministry in its official release stated that Turkmenistan, as depository state of Ashgabat agreement, informed India on Feb 1 that all the four founding members have consented to the accession of India to the agreement.
According to the Ministry, India’s accession to the agreement would diversify India's connectivity options with Central Asia and have a positive influence on India's trade and commercial ties with the region.
India’s accession to the agreement will come into force on February 3, 2018. India had deposited the Instrument of Accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016 after receiving approval from the Union Cabinet.
About Ashgabat Agreement
• The agreement is a Multimodal transport agreement between founding members Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
• The main objective of the agreement is to create an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
• In October 2016, Pakistan had formally joined the Ashgabat Agreement in addition to the Lapis Lazuli corridor. Kazakhstan is also a part of the arrangement.
• The Indian government on March 23, 2016 had requested approval for acceding to the agreement.
• The accession to the agreement would enable India to utilise the transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interaction with the Eurasian region.
• Further, this would synchronise with India’s efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity.