• Samba 65 00% 56.65%
    Joga2002 635.254 50% 63.63%
    Bra52 69 23.145% -63.25%
    Joga2002 635.254 50% 63.63%
  • HangSang20 370 400% -20%
    NasDaq4 33 00% 36%
    S&P5002 60 50% 10%
    HangSang20 370 400% -20%
    Dow17 56.23 41.89% -2.635%

EghtesadOnline: The first phase of the strategically-located Iranian port of Chabahar, subject to $850 million of investment for expansion, is ready for operation, IRNA says.

Managing Director of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran Mohammad Saeednejad on Saturday expressed hope that the section would become operational after the presidential election in May, the news agency reported.

The expansion of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman has drawn interest from several foreign countries, notably India which seeks to gain a foothold in Iran and win access to the Central Asia and Afghanistan.

According to PressTV, a report on Saturday said Tehran had recently proposed to New Delhi to manage the first phase of the port even as the two sides are negotiating the terms and conditions of India’s role in expanding phase two of the port.

The two countries have signed a commercial agreement, according to which India has undertaken to invest $235 million in the port.

India seeks to open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where New Delhi has developed close security ties and economic interests.  

The country plans to develop two terminals and cargo berths in Chabahar under the deal which was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tehran last May.

India, Afghanistan and Iran separately signed an agreement to set up a trade and transport corridor during Modi's trip that will have Chabahar as the hub. 

The trilateral agreement has been described as a game changer for regional connectivity, especially for Afghanistan which will be availed with a reliable alternate access to India via sea.

Road and rail links are to be built so that Afghanistan can get access to the Iranian port. The planned north-south railroad could help Afghanistan exploit an estimated $1 trillion of untapped mineral wealth and reduce its reliance on international aid.

The three countries are about to meet in Iran in May when a summit will be held to attract investments in the Special Economic Zone of Chabahar.

India’s $235 million investment on phase two of Chabahar is about to come in two tranches: its Exim Bank would provide a credit line of $150 million, while an  Indian company would invest $85 million to convert the planned berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal.

Through bankrolling a connectivity hub in Chabahar, India seeks to rival the China-Pakistan partnership at Gwadar and boost its stature in the region through integrating South Asia’s economies.

However, the slow pace of the project has drawn criticism from many circles as bureaucracy has taken its sweet time and the two sides have haggled over many things, including who would pay the excise duty on the imported equipment.             

Chabahar can even benefit China which has signed a raft of agreements to build terminals in some Persian Gulf Arab states across from the Iranian coast.

The port will also be able to handle large cargo ships, dispensing with the need for Iran to rely on UAE ports for off-loading goods on smaller boats, and providing a backup to the Strait of Hormuz which is vulnerable to possible disruptions.

Mohammad Saeednejad Chabahar port Iran's Chabahar