A new trilateral transit agreement between Afghanistan, Iran and India is said to be entering the final stages of review. The Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Muhammad Reza Bahrami, spoke about the agreement on Tuesday and expressed confidence that it would be completed soon.
The agreement, which will open up the Iranian Chabahar port for Afghan and Indian trade, now awaits the approval of Kabul and New Delhi, after already being signed off on by officials in Tehran. The agreement is expected to boost relations between all three countries, but particularly trade between India and Afghanistan, which until this point, has been relegated to difficult and expensive channels through Pakistan.
“The signing of this agreement is in favor of Iran, Afghanistan and India,” Ambassador Bahrami said on Tuesday. “Insecurity has been the biggest challenge for Afghan goods, but with the signing of this agreement, this problem will be resolved and Afghan goods will make it to the markets of the region.”
Meanwhile, the Afghan Deputy Ambassador to India, Ashraf Haidari, told TOLOnews that India plans to increase investments in Chabahar port as soon as the deal is complete so that the volume and frequency of transactions passing through it can rise.
“The draft of the transit agreement between Afghanistan, Iran and India is under review and with its finalization, Indian goods will make their way to Afghan markets and Afghan goods will make their way to Indian markets through the Chabahar port,” Deputy Ambassador Haidari said. “This is good news for the expansion of Afghan trade to Asian countries.”
As a landlocked country, Afghanistan’s lack of sea ports gives it a decided disadvantage in international trade. However, with the agreement to allow Afghan traders and businesses unencumbered access to the Chabahar port in Iran, that disadvantage will be remedied.
Furthermore, political analysts have said that circumventing routes in Pakistan will allow trade between Afghanistan and India to flourish without meddling on account of the historic and still simmering tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad.