Logistics

India pitches for including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan in INSTC

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 04, 2021

Chabahar port sees growth in monthly vessel calls

India, which has proposed Chabahar Port (located in Iran) to be part of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), would also support inclusion of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in the INSTC.

“The INSTC is an important trade corridor project, wherein India is partnering with 12 countries to establish an economic corridor for the benefit of our peoples. We also welcome the interest of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to join the multilateral corridor project....India has also proposed the inclusion of Chabahar in the INSTC route,” said S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, in his address on ‘Chabahar Day’ at the virtual Maritime India Summit 2021 on Thursday.

Establishing an eastern corridor through Afghanistan would maximise its potential, the Minister added.

Shipping Minister Mansukhlal Mandaviya pointed out at the summit that the INSTC Coordination Council Meeting, which couldn’t be held last year because of the pandemic, may be held digitally (video-conferencing) at the earliest so that the momentum of the progress made so far is not stalled.

The virtual summit was also attended by Ministers of Armenia, Afghanistan, Iran, Russian Federation and Uzbekistan.

Multi-modal network

The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multi-modal network to move cargo between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, other land-locked countries in the region and Europe.

Chabahar Port is a joint effort of the Governments of India, Iran and Afghanistan, to support landlocked Afghanistan by giving access to the open seas, optimise logistic cost by bringing in efficiency and create a reliable and safe transport corridor, said Mandaviya, adding that the project also aims to develop a transit hub for cross-connectivity between India and Eurasia.

Chabahar business

After starting operations two years ago at Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar, the port has handled 123 vessels and total 13,752 TEUs (twenty feet equivalent unit) containers and 18 lakh tonnes of bulk or general cargo, informed the Minister.

Additionally, there has been an increase in average monthly call by vessels, he said. Indian firm India Ports Global Limited (IPGL), through its wholly owned subsidiary India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) commenced operations at Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar on December 25, 2018.

Milestones

“In 2020, Afghanistan’s first transit shipment of dried fruit and the first shipment of Iran’s aquatic products to South-East were shipped through Chabahar Port,” said Mandaviya, adding that these are important milestones. They facilitate trade between Central Asian countries and Afghanistan with the countries of South and South-East Asia and the Far East through container transportation.

Mandaviya added that there is a need to look at these projects as “bankable” subsequently. “At some stage, we also need to discuss and examine what specific steps we could undertake to support back-end linkages which will allow us to conceive of geographic connectivity projects not merely as road or rail or sea infrastructure issues but as projects that are bankable, of interest to industry and can help transform the geographic corridors of connectivity into corridors for economic cooperation, growth and prosperity in the region,” said the Minister.

Jaishankar expressed hopes that during the INSTC Coordination Council meeting, member states would agree to the expansion of the INSTC route to include the Chabahar Port and also agree on expanding the membership of this project.

Published on March 04, 2021

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