A Different Chabahar in 5 Years
EghtesadOnline: Chabahar Port’s vast potentials and plans will set the platform for growth and development in five years, said Abdolrahim Kordi, the director of Chabahar Free Zone Organization, in a write-up for the Persian-language daily Iran. Below is the full text.
What has made Chabahar remarkable, in the face of competition from other ports of the region, is the prospect of its geo-economic power.
Located at the intersection of north, south, east and west corridors, Chabahar connects numerous global markets.
Over the past decade, international competition, transportation costs and delivery speed have become of utmost importance. Everyone is searching for the shortest transit routes.
The typical shipping route linking India to Russia is through the Suez Canal which takes 36 days. With the help of intermodal transport logistics, Chabahar will reduce this period to 14 days.
What has also made Chabahar more attractive is the development plan of Makran coast [a semi-desert coastal strip stretched along southeastern Iran to Pakistan’s Balochistan and borders the coasts of Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman].
Recommendations by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei have urged the government to invest more resources there. The capacity of Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar will soon reach 8.5 million tons.
On Wednesday, the track-laying operation of Chabahar-Zahedan railroad [a 628-kilometer project connecting the southeastern port city of Chabahar to the eastern city of Zahedan near the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan] was launched. This railroad will harness the untapped potential of Chabahar and attract more investors.
Mission to Attract Regional Inventors
The mission of officials in charge of Chabahar’s development is to facilitate the presence of regional investors. Our priority is to address their concerns by taking achievable steps to move the project forward and resolve any conflicts.
Chabahar Free Trade Zone last [Iranian] year [March 2019-20] set up transparent borders and the FTZ’s territory increased from 14,000 hectares to 82,000. The new plan has considered land, sea and air borders.
With the construction of Chabahar International Airport, problems regarding air border will go away and with the development of Shahid Beheshti Port, there will be sea border within the region.
Zero point Iran-Pakistan Rimdan, with an area of 6,000 hectares, has been demarcated. It connects Iran’s land border to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—an economic route stretching from western China through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean coast.
Millions of Dollars Invested in Infrastructure Projects
Millions of dollars have been invested in infrastructure projects such as water and electricity. Development projects of upstream industries in Chabahar, including steel and petrochemical, have been undertaken.
A steel complex with a capacity of 1.6 million tons has achieved a 30% progress. A consortium, including Mobarakeh Steel Company and Chadormalu Mining and Industrial Company, has been formed for the construction of a steel plant with a capacity of 10 million tons that would bring about a revolution in the region. Downstream industries and small- and medium-sized enterprises have also taken effective measures in Chabahar.
Excluding petrochemical and steel projects, a total of 500 investment contracts worth more than 60,000 billion rials [$220 million] have been concluded in Chabahar over the past three years.
Investment in steel and petrochemical industries top 200,000 billion rials [$732 million]. When these projects are completed, investors are likely to participate in other complementary fields.
Iran’s Marine Asset
Chabahar has a pivotal role in regional competition and economic diplomacy, and will turn into Iran’s marine asset.
Despite sanctions, it has been stimulating economic diplomacy. It has averted a number of challenges, thanks to its potentials and capacities. [Chabahar has been exempted from US sanctions as the project is a lifeline for Afghanistan to receive humanitarian supplies from India.]
All policies and plans need to focus on expediting activities in Chabahar. The sectoral vision among different organizations is the main hurdle in the way of Chabahar’s development.
Synergy and collaboration could help speed up projects’ progress.
The Sea of Oman littoral states are pushing ahead with their development projects, so the main concern is not to lose time and hand over the opportunity to them.
Policymakers need to avoid taking conflicting or overlapping measures. In view of all the plans underway, Chabahar will be completely transformed in five years.