AKIPRESS.COM - Close on the heels of the SCO foreign ministers' meet where India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar pitched for Chabahar Port – Link to International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) – as a viable connectivity link in the region, India invited envoys of all five Central Asian states, Iran and Afghanistan to Mumbai on July 31 to celebrate Chabahar Day for optimum use of the port to connect India with landlocked Central Asia, The Print reports.
A high level diplomatic delegation from Central Asian countries present on the occasion included Nurlan Zhalgasbayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan; Asein Isaev, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic; Lukmon Bobokalonzoda, Ambassador of Tajikistan; Shalar Geldynazarov, Amassador of Turkmenistan; Dilshod Akhatov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan; Ms Zakia Wardak, Consul General (CG) of Afghanistan; Dr A M Alikhani, Consul General of Iran and Masoud Ostad Hossein, Advisor to the minister of Road and Urban Development, Iran. India’s Minister of Ports and Shipping Sarbananda Sonowal, speaking at the event, affirmed India’s commitment towards unlocking the trade potential with the Central Asian region through the use of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar in Iran.
It is also India’s vision to make this port a transit hub and linking it to INSTC to reach out to Central Asian Countries, said the minister. He said that India looks forward to businesses and logistics companies utilizing the incentives offered by the Port and Chabahar Free Trade Zone.
Welcoming the Central Asian countries to use the services of Shahid Beheshti Port for facilitating their trade with India and other external markets, the Indian Minister further urged all stakeholders to come forward with suggestions to reduce the transportation time and cost further to make a cheaper, shorter, faster and more reliable route from India to Iran and Central Asia.
The Indian minister said, Chabahar Port links the rich Central Asian region with the South Asian markets. Owing to the potential of the Central Asian markets, the India-led connectivity has provided a secure and commercially viable access to the Indian Ocean region for Central Asian countries. This link will not only provide connectivity, but also drive investments further supporting our cultural and political ties, he added.
During the event, the delegates from the Central Asian countries highlighted how Chabahar link with INSTC can play a vital role in boosting export-import trade in their regions and its potential to further boost development in the landlocked countries.
The Chabahar Port is a key pillar of India’s Indo-Pacific vision to connect Eurasia with the Indian Ocean Region. The port will also be part International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) network connecting India. INSTC is India’s vision and initiative to reduce the time taken for export-import shipments to reach Russia, Europe, and enter the central Asian markets.
The Chabahar Port located in Iran is the commercial transit centre for the region and especially Central Asia. Notably, the first rail transit cargo from Russia to India entered Iran recently through the Sarakhs border crossing, marking the official launch of the eastern section of the North-South railway corridor.
The corridor is aimed at reducing the carriage cost between India and Russia by about 30 per cent and bringing down the transit time from 40 days by more than half. Russia, India, and Iran are the founding member states of INSTC. The agreement was signed in 2002. There are 13 member states of the INSTC project – India, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Oman, Turkey, Syria and Ukraine.
India shows interest in extending INSTC membership to countries like Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Establishing a land route via Kabul and Tashkent to form the INSTC’s “Eastern corridor” would maximise the potential of this collaboration. Also, India wants Chabahar port to be included in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).