Afghanistan keen on Chabahar, expects pact to be inked soon

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Afghanistan is keen on opening the Chabahar port in Iran for transit to India, bypassing Pakistan, and is expecting a trilateral agreement to be signed soon.

The Chabahar port in Iran is likely to significantly boost the trade volume between India and Afghanistan by providing a shorter route for transporting goods between the two countries.

Besides, the port will help India obtain a direct access to Central Asia and facilitate import of minerals from Afghanistan.

"We are expecting an alternative trade route to Afghanistan which will be sustainable and long term, that is the Chabahar port. We are expecting the Chabahar transitory agreement to be signed between Afghanistan, India and Iran in the near future, that will help the trade volume go higher and higher", Ambassador of Afghanistan to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali said.

"Afghanistan and India have already agreed on a draft on the transition that they would use through Iran, the Chabahar port. We have shared that draft with Iran and are expecting the Iranians to reply very shortly," Abdali said.

Presently, while Afghanistan is allowed to export to India through Pakistan, India is not allowed to export to Afghanistan through Pakistan. Therefore, Chabahar port will provide India alternative shorter route for trade to Afghanistan, Federation of Indian Exports Organisations (FIEO) Director General & CEO Ajay Sahai said.

"I am sure once the port comes into operation in full swing, we can look at increasing the USD 600 million trade to USD 5 billion in maximum 5 years," he added.

Besides, FIEO and the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate information sharing and boost bilateral trade between India and Afghanistan.

Najlla Habibyar, CEO of EPAA, who was present at the MoU signing ceremony, said she expects the India-Afghanistan bilateral trade, which was about USD 600 million 2013-14, to rise significantly in the near future.

"The formalisation of this relationship (MoU) will help address the current gaps including information sharing on standards and tariffs and business consulting for bilateral trade," Abdali said.

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