Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 24 May 2024 3.41 AM IST

Chabahar port deal: India's strategic triumph in global trade chessboard


India has gained control and development rights over Iran's Chabahar port for a decade. The agreement was inked by India Ports Global and the Port and Maritime Organization of Iran, with Union Ports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Iran's Transport Minister Mehrdad Basarpash present in Tehran. Chabahar port, situated in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province comprises Shahid Kalantari and Shahid - Behesti Ports. India will oversee Shahid Behesti Port for ten years under the deal. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs states this move will bolster India's position over Pakistan and China in transcontinental trade.

Previously, India relied heavily on the Pakistani route for trade with Central Asia and Afghanistan, subject to Pakistan's permission, often denied during tense India-Pakistan relations. Chabahar's significance lies in bypassing this route, becoming India's international North-South transport corridor. Goods can be shipped via sea, rail and road to Iran, Russia, Central Asia and Europe, slashing transport costs by almost 60% and freight time by 50%.

Negotiations for port acquisition commenced in 2003, culminating in the agreements signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2016 visit to Iran. The US expressed discomfort post-agreement, warning about sanctions for deals with sanctioned countries. Despite Western sanctions, Chabahar enables Iran-India trade unhindered.

Chabahar Port's acquisition marks a strategic shift, amplifying India's cargo traffic to Central Asia tenfold. This counters critics questioning the benefits of Modi's foreign visits. With China eyeing Indian Ocean dominance via ports like Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Chabahar's development is expected to strengthen India's position and prompt robust responses to potential threats.

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