Arab States Keen to Invest in Iran's Chabahar Free Trade Zone
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Regional Arab countries of Oman, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have expressed interest in making investments in Iran’s Chabahar Free Trade Zone, located in southeast of the country in a port city of the same name.
Hamedali Mobaraki, the managing director of Chabahar Free Trade Zone, referred to the lowering of the transport expenses and the time as the privileges of transiting goods through Chabahar to and from Afghanistan and countries in Central Asia in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency, adding that the Indians say they would also provide the ships for the purpose.
“The volume of the investments is very high, and presently they are going to transit five million tons of chromite which is extracted from mines in Afghanistan by road to Chabahar,” he said.
Speaking about the capacity for loading and unloading goods in Chabahar port jetties, Mobaraki said currently the port can handle two million tons a year.
“We are implementing the development project of the jetties and that volume is scheduled to increase to six million tons, in which case larger ships will be able to dock at Chabahar Port,” he said.
The Indian Express daily said on August 6 that India would soon send a delegation to Iran to discuss upgrading the strategically important Chabahar port and the two sides would begin negotiations on a trilateral transit agreement to ship goods to Afghanistan.
The two issues were part of discussions between Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani soon after his swearing-in ceremony, senior officials told reporters.
India had held discussions with Iran on the Chabahar port during External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's visit in May.
The government had given in-principle clearance for Indian participation in the project and negotiations will begin soon to work out cost and other issues along with the proposed transit agreement.
The transit agreement involves India, Iran and Afghanistan.
Chabahar port is strategically crucial as it gives access route to Afghanistan. Chabahar port, which is surrounded by a free trade zone, is vital particularly since Pakistan does not allow transit facility from India to Afghanistan.
India and Iran have long economic ties, with oil being the biggest item of Indian import from Iran. But India feels there is a lot of scope for increasing Indian exports to the country, particularly in pharmaceuticals and food.