Landlocked Afghanistan has launched new export route that will allow it to export goods to India through Chabahar port in Iran. As part of it, first shipment of 570 tonnes goods comprising of dried fruits, textiles, carpets etc. in 23 trucks were dispatched from western Afghan city of Zaranj to Chabahar port. This consignment will be shipped to Indian city of Mumbai.
India is Afghanistan’s largest export destination and its exports to India stood at $740 million in 2018. Both countries had established air corridor in 2017 to boost the trade relations. US also granted exception to India for development of Chabahar port under the reimposed of sanctions on Iran after withdrawal from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). India had sent 1.1 million tonnes of wheat and 2,000 tonnes of lentils to Afghanistan through Chabahar.
It is strategically located in Sistan-Balochistan province on energy-rich Iran’s southern coast in Gulf of Oman. It is less than 150km from Chinese built port of Gwadar in Pakistan. It is seen as golden gateway for India to access landlocked markets of Afghanistan and Central Asian markets bypassing Pakistan. India and Iran signed “historic” agreement for development of this port in May 2016. Shahid Beheshti port or phase 1 of Chabahar was made operational in February 2018.