Co-authored by Roshani & Pearl Image: Lijumol Joseph/The Quint
Chabahar Port Agreement: A foreign policy
India seems to
be making in-roads into Central Asia by signing her historic deal to develop
the strategic port of Chabahar in Iran and agreeing on a three-nation pact to
build a transport-and-trade corridor through Afghanistan. India, Afghanistan
and Iran decided in 2016 to establish the trade route, which would allow Indian
goods to reach Central Asia. In February 2018, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
paid an official visit to India where Indian and Iranian governments inked nine
agreements including the operational control of the parts of Chabahar Port to
India for 18 months.
developed by Indian assistance, is located on the Gulf of Oman along the Makran
coast in south-eastern Iran. The port of Chabahar is 800 kms closer to
Afghanistan than the port of Karachi. Due to the proximity with Central Asian
countries of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, it is the ‘Golden Gate’ to these
There have been
concerns over the trade route as the projects land route that passes through
Afghanistan is prone to security hazards and is extremely volatile. The route
provides an easy way for international crime syndicates, unscrupulous traders and
non-state actors to distribute their wares, or to provide belligerents with
highly sophisticated weapons. While the entire coast
of India is vulnerable to clandestine landings of contraband, the
Gujarat-Maharashtra coastline and the Tamil Nadu coast are most vulnerable.
There are also environmental concerns with regard to the project as
the overexploitation of ocean resources are threatening the interests and
futures of all the region's countries and people. The concerns include the
possibility of increase in the likelihood of flooding, resulting in loss of
life and damage to property.
Chabahar port will serve as the Indian Ocean outlet for New Delhi’s grand
International North- South Transit Corridor (INSTC) initiative, this will
reduce Indian trade costs by 30% and transport time by 50%. Central Asia’s
substantial natural resources shall also become easily accessible to India.
Many Indian industries will stand to benefit from this route and it will also
ensure energy security for India. This route will also help India play a
greater role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan thereby increasing her sphere
of influence in Asia. This greater access is likely help India compete with
China not only economically, but also politically, tipping the power scale in
of Chabahar thus seems like a win-win-win proposition, if the project and its
associated overland infrastructure receive the necessary investments and
political backing. The Chabahar port development has important implications for
economic growth and development of South and Central Asia, particularly the two
giant markets of India and Iran. The future of the Chabahar port—as well as the
plethora of competing and complementary port, road and rail projects—will also
dramatically affect the business operating environment in South and Central
Asia by potentially redrawing supply chain routes throughout the region and
beyond. New Delhi’s approach to Chabahar is based on a Central Asia-plus-South
Asia concept, which constitutes the core of New Delhi’s Connect Central Asia
policy. India’s approach of reactivating INSTC is another illustration of how
India wants to connect with the region physically. Connectivity, energy
exploration, sharing security concerns on terrorism, and establishing political
presence are some of the factors that shape India’s Central Asia policy.
About the Author
Roshani & Pearl are members of the Information Services team at MitKat Advisory Services.
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions represented in this blog are of the author and do not represent those of MitKat. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any country, religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.