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EghtesadOnline: A cargo ship carrying 43 containers, including 942 tons of marble blocks, has been sent to China via the southeastern port of Chabahar for the first time, the head of Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization said.

“Stones are expected to become one of the major exports through Chabahar, given the port’s modern loading and unloading equipment and discounts offered on port services. In the past, exports from Chabahar were restricted to one destination, i.e. India, but we managed to tap into the benefits of the country’s only oceanic port and expand Iran and Afghanistan’s export destinations to other countries, including China, Thailand and Malaysia,” Behrouz Aqaie also told IRNA on Thursday.  

The first shipment of Afghanistan’s transit goods has been shipped to China through Shahid Beheshti terminal of Chabahar Port in southern Iran, Mehr News Agency reported last month.

According to Aqaei, while the world is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Chabahar's Shahid Beheshti has taken a big step to facilitate trade between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan with the countries of South and Southeast Asia and the Far East by establishing regular container transportation services.

Stating that Afghanistan’s first transit shipment of dried fruit was sent to Tianjin Port in China, he said the cargo was sent to the Indian port of Mundra via Chabahar, which was unloaded at this port and loaded on another ship to its final destination.

In 2016, Iran, India and Afghanistan decided to jointly establish a trade route for landlocked Central Asian countries.

India had also sent a consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port in 2017.

In February 2019, the Afghanistan-Iran-India corridor for trade through Chabahar Port was officially inaugurated, Afghanistan Times reported.

Reefers carrying Iran’s seafood products was sent to Thailand via the southeastern port of Chabahar for the first time earlier this month. 

“The shipment will be sent to India’s Mundra Port and then will be transshipped to Thailand’s Bangkok. In addition, normal cargo containers carrying the second shipment of Afghanistan’s dried fruits have been transported to China’s Tianjin by the same cargo ship,” Aqaie said.

He added that over the past month, four container ships carrying Afghanistan’s products have left Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti Port for India.

Chabahar is of strategic importance for Iran, as it is the country’s only oceanic port, which bypasses the narrow chokepoint of Strait of Hormuz connected to the Persian Gulf.

The first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port development project was inaugurated in December 2017 by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan. 

Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port town and consists of two separate port terminals: Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. The opening of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port (out of five phases defined for the project), which has tripled its capacity to 8.5 million tons (equal to that of all the northern ports of the country), allows the docking of super-large container ships (between 100,000 DWT and 120,000 DWT) and increase India’s connectivity with Afghanistan.

China Chabahar Sistan-Baluchestan Shipment cargo ship