Iran, India, Uzbekistan Meet on Joint Use of Chabahar Port
IRAN NEWS NATIONAL DESK
TEHRAN – Iran, India, and Uzbekistan held the first-ever meeting of a trilateral working group on the joint use of the strategic Chabahar Port, southeastern Iran.
The meeting was held virtually on Monday and co-chaired by Iranian Deputy Transport Minister Shahram Adamnejad, Indian Ports Ministry Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan, and Uzbek Deputy Transport Minister Davron Dexkanov.
The Meeting was jointly chaired virtually by Secretary (Shipping), Sanjeev Ranjan, Deputy Minister of Transport of the Republic of Uzbekistan, D. Dehkanov and Deputy Transport Minister of Iran, Shahram Adamnejad. During the meeting, the participants discussed joint use of Chabahar Port for trade and transit purposes and enhanced regional connectivity. All sides also noted the significant role played by Chabahar port for the region to deliver humanitarian assistance during the COVID pandemic. All sides welcomed India’s proposal to hold “Chabahar Day” on the sidelines of the International Maritime Summit scheduled to be hosted by India in January 2021.
Uzbekistan has been keen to use the Chabahar port as a transit port for the Indian Ocean region and the port can give more options to the landlocked Central Asian region and Eastern part of Russia, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the region. This connectivity will also enhance India’s footprints in Afghanistan as Uzbekistan will be connected to Chabahar Port via the landlocked country. Besides Uzbekistan, other Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan have also shown interest in using the port. India seeks to cooperate closely with regional countries on this issue, officials said. Indian presence in Chabahar Port has been immune from US sanctions on Iran and Delhi has been keen to build railway link from Chabahar port to link landlocked Afghanistan.
It may be noted that Uzbekistan has built a railway link to Afghanistan to connect to Iranian railway network eyeing use of Chabahar Port as an entry into the Indian Ocean region. Uzbekistan is among two doubly landlocked countries in the world. Tashkent over the past five years buoyed by economic reforms is seeking to increase its Indian Ocean outreach to break away from its landlocked status.
In a videoconference on Tuesday, Iranian Deputy of Road Minister at Transport Affairs Shahram Adamnejad and Uzbek Deputy Minister of Transport D Dehkanov discussed the implementation of transit strategies between the two countries to the origin and destination of India and other third countries through the port of Chabahar.
Chabahar port is a safe and very suitable port for the transit of goods, said Adamnejad, adding that the neighboring countries and the region can benefit from investing in this port.
Referring to the restrictions imposed by Turkmenistan on the entry or transit of goods through this country, he informed of Iran’s effective measures in the field of transportation of goods and trucks by vessels from Iran’s northern ports in the Caspian Sea.
For his part, Dehkanov also praised the facilities and equipment of Chabahar port, saying that considering the operational capabilities, equipment and geostrategic position of Chabahar port, it is suggested that a joint working group be formed with representatives of Iran and Uzbekistan to carefully review the plans and present operational plans of Uzbekistan presence in Shahid Beheshti port of Chabahar.
In this meeting, an official at Ports & Maritime Organization Of Iran Khosrow Saraei also said that located in a strategic area and outside the Strait of Hormuz, Chabahar port has access to deep open waters.
Referring to the developments in Chabahar port and the presence of Indian investors, he added that during the last 22 months, 72 container ships, 20 General Cargo ships, 3 livestock ships and one cargo ship were accepted in Chabahar port, which indicates the prosperity of this port and the increase in the volume of operations.
Stating that Chabahar port has joined the free zone and enjoys the rules and regulations of a free zone, he announced a 50% discount on the transit of goods and a 25-year tax exemption and free transfer of currency abroad as part of the benefits of investing in the port.
Referring to the good experience of Indians in attracting goods and ships to the port of Chabahar, Saraei invited Uzbek transport officials to use the facilities provided in Chabahar.
India proposed to hold a “Chabahar Day” on the sidelines of the upcoming Indian-hosted International Maritime Summit and the other participants welcomed it, the Indian foreign ministry said in a press release.
The Chabahar Port is strategically located on Iran’s energy-rich southeastern coast in the Gulf of Oman and is connected to Afghanistan by a railroad. For India, it is a convenient route to trade with landlocked Central Asian countries bypassing Pakistan.
Uzbekistan’s involvement in the project was a proposal put forward by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev at a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.