The 13-nation International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which runs from India to Russia, has received India’s expressed approval to include Chabahar Port.
India proposed that the land route via Kabul (Afghanistan) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan) would constitute the INSTC’s “Eastern corridor,” which goes through Bandar Abbas, Iran’s largest port.
India may have pushed for Chabahar’s inclusion in the INSTC in response to the incoming Biden administration’s insistence for resuming negotiations with Iran over the JCPOA nuclear agreement and the potential relaxation of some sanctions.
What is INSTC?
In order to encourage cooperation in transportation among the Member States, Iran, Russia, and India formed the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) on September 12, 2000 in St. Petersburg.
Eleven new nations have joined the INSTC, including the Republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Ukraine, Republic of Belarus, Oman, Syria, and Bulgaria (Observer).
It plans to build a 7,200 km multi-mode network of roads, rails, and ships to convey freight in an effort to cut the cost of transportation between India and Russia by around 30% and more than halve the current transit time of 40 days.
Through the Islamic Republic of Iran, this corridor links the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and North Europe with St. Petersburg and Europe.
About Chabahar Port
Chabahar is a port in southwestern Iran on the Gulf of Oman. It is Iran’s sole port with direct access to the sea. It is situated on the southern coast of Iran’s energy-rich Sistan-Balochistan region. The Chabahar port is regarded as a doorway to golden chances for India, Iran, and Afghanistan to trade with Central Asian countries.
The Chabahar Port, built with Indian aid, serves as a commercial transit hub for the region, particularly Central Asia. In collaboration with the Iranian government, India is developing the first phase of the Shahid Beheshti Terminal at Chabahar Port.
Given the obstacles in the straight route through Pakistan, it creates a permanent alternate route for trade between Afghanistan and Central Asia. China and Pakistan are working to strengthen their economic and trade ties through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Gwadar port, both of which are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Chabahar Port is an important component of India’s Indo-Pacific plan, which involves Eurasia’s connectivity to the Indian Ocean Region. It will facilitate India’s role in Afghanistan’s development through infrastructure and education projects, as well as enabling Afghanistan to have a commercial fleet sailing from Chabahar under Afghan flag.
Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan see Chabahar Port as a route to the Indian Ocean.
According to Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal, “This link will not only offer more connectivity but will also drive investment, further supporting our culture and political ties,” Union Shipping Minister Sarbanand Sonowal said this at an event held to observe ‘Chabahar Day’ to promote ‘Chabahar – Link to INSTC – Connecting Central Asian Markets’, as cited by the Outlook.
He claimed that the port will improve the region’s logistics network and encourage a cooperative initiative to establish a regional transnational transport corridor, which will benefit not only India’s trade but also world trade. “It is going to be one of the most important locations for global trade and maritime trade.”
The Minister added, “We urge all the representatives and 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”, according to the Outlook.