EghtesadOnline: India’s total transit of goods to Afghanistan via Iran accounted for 28% of Chabahar’s total container traffic by the end of August, which marks the 20th month of the Indian operator’s presence in the port, says Behrouz Aqaei, the head of Sistan-Baluchestan’s Ports and Maritime Organization.
“Transit from Afghanistan to India and China also constituted 5% of Chabahar’s container traffic over the period under review,” he added.
The first shipment of Afghanistan’s transit goods has been shipped to China through Shahid Beheshti terminal of Chabahar Port in southern Iran in July.
"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," Aqaei 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.
Noting that India’s eighth shipment of wheat to be sent to Afghanistan has arrived in Iran’s southeastern port of Shahid Beheshti in Chabahar, the official was quoted as saying on Saturday that the consignment is part of India’s pledge to deliver 75,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which will be transported via road to Milak, a border city on the Afghan border.
“With this latest arrival, the total transshipment of India’s wheat from Iran to Afghanistan in the current year has hit 61,000 tons,” he was quoted as saying by News.mrud.ir.
India’s private sector has also started exports of a variety of items to Afghanistan through Chabahar; for instance last month, it sent the first batch of sugar (70 containers) to the neighboring country.
In 2016, Iran, India and Afghanistan decided to jointly establish a trade route for landlocked Central Asian countries.
In February 2019, the Afghanistan-Iran-India trade corridor for the trade between the two countries through Chabahar Port was officially inaugurated.
Chabahar is of strategic importance for Iran, as it is the country’s only oceanic port, which bypasses the narrow chokepoint of the 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 consists of two 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 increases India’s connectivity with Afghanistan.
A cargo ship carrying 43 containers, including 942 tons of marble stone blocks, was sent to China via the southeastern port of Chabahar for the first time last month.
“Stones are expected to become one of the major exports through Chabahar given the port’s modern loading and unloading equipment and attractive discounts it offers 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,” Aqaei said.