Azerbaijan to greatly benefit from India-Iran deal on strategic port

By Sabina Alizade

Indian cargo may be transported through Azerbaijan . India and Iran have signed a historic agreement to manage the Chabahar port, which will be a significant step in the development of trade and economic relations between the two countries. After the signing of the agreement, the United States threatened to impose sanctions on India.

The Economic Times reports that India intends to sign an agreement with Iran to manage the Chabahar port over the next decade and connect it to the International North-South Transport Corridor, where Azerbaijan serves as a crucial transportation hub. This step aims to strengthen India's position in the region and help develop transportation infrastructure.

The Chabahar port, located in southeastern Iran, is a key object in this strategy. Under India's control, the port will become a more important trade centre, serving both local and transit cargo. One of the main aspects of the agreement is the plan to link the Chabahar port with the International North-South Transport Corridor. This corridor will enable efficient transportation of goods from India and Gulf countries through Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia, and then to Western and Northern Europe. This will reduce delivery times by two to three times, significantly increasing trade efficiency and accelerating economic growth in the region.

Transportation expert Rauf Agamirzayev has told News.Az that the transit route through Azerbaijan can be seen as part of both the North-South and South-West transport corridors. Azerbaijan's strategic location provides ample opportunities for these corridors to pass through its territory. "The investments made in the last 18 years, the infrastructure built, the length of our roads, their capacity, and the modernization of the railway infrastructure over the years, I believe, will be fully completed by 2028. These factors create favourable conditions for the transit of cargo through Azerbaijan." He noted that the North-South transport corridor was announced in 2000 by Russia, Iran, and India. Azerbaijan joined this project in 2005. "In 2017, Azerbaijan built a new railway bypassing the city of Astara and also constructed a railway bridge over the Astara River. It leased 35 hectares in Iran's Astara for 25 years and established the Astara terminal, which will initially increase the terminal's capacity to up to 4 million tons per year. By 2028, the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway, funded by Russia, is expected to be completed, which will result in a dynamic increase in cargo flow along this route."

The expert stated that the construction of the Horadiz-Aghband railway in Azerbaijan, connecting it through Iran, creates additional opportunities for north-south, east-west, and south-west routes, reducing risks by offering multiple routes, turning Azerbaijan into a significant player in the region. "Amid the complex geopolitical situation in the region, Azerbaijan's infrastructure offers the best opportunities for transportation from the south to Russia and from the south to Black Sea ports, and I believe India can benefit from this. You may not love us, but you have to reckon with us." Rauf Agamirzayev believes that in the future, we will observe an increase in cargo traffic through this transit route in Azerbaijan. Initial figures suggest that up to 30 million tons of cargo are expected to be transported via the North-South Transport Corridor. He emphasized that initially, 15 million tons of cargo from the Russian direction are expected to be transported. Currently, the capacity is 11 million tons, and by constructing additional Yalama-2 and Samur-2 stations, this capacity is planned to be increased to 15 million tons. The potential is great, and as the dynamic increase in cargo is observed, additional infrastructure solutions can expand these capabilities further."

Economic expert Emin Garibli assessed that the transportation of goods through Azerbaijan from both east to west and south to north ensures economic stability. He noted that India's economy is growing steadily and that India aims to play a transit role. He emphasized that the land route through Azerbaijan will prevent time loss. "Considering India's economic growth, it wants to activate this transport corridor. Looking at the statistics of goods moving from south to north, we see an increase.

There is a small railway between Azerbaijan and Iran. I believe that India's activity will lead to the construction of that small line in the future." The expert added that there is also a railway connecting our Sharur to Iran.

"I believe that in the future, this will lead to the diversification of the north-south corridor I mentioned in the context of the Zangazur corridor . This is of strategic importance to us. The transportation of goods from south to north and the expansion of railway infrastructure capabilities in the future is very positive. We see that Baku is holding meetings with Russia and other countries, and I believe this project has prospects." It should be noted that India announced its intention to invest in the development of the Chabahar port during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Iran in 2016.

At that time, plans were announced to invest $500 million in the construction of port infrastructure. This project also received support from Afghanistan, highlighting its importance for the entire region. Despite the freezing of the Chabahar port development project due to international sanctions against Iran, the active efforts of the parties are increasingly making its implementation a reality. Such agreements not only boost economic growth and strengthen trade relations between countries but also lay the groundwork for future cooperation in various fields such as transportation, trade, and the economy.


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