Tehran will reduce or remove motorway tolling between Iran and Afghanistan to increase bilateral trade, Head of Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization Abdulhashem Hassannia said, adding that improving shared roads and transportation corridors between the two countries should be top on agenda.
Hassannia said that reducing or removing motorway tolling between Iran and Afghanistan can help increase bilateral trade.
The Iranian official made the remarks in a meeting with Afghan Ambassador to Iran Nasir Ahmad Nour on Tuesday, during which he stressed the need to pay more attention to improving shared roads and transportation corridors between the two countries on the part of Tehran and Kabul officials.
Hassannia, who is also the deputy road minister, referred to the strategic Chabahar port in Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran's Southeastern coast, saying the port can play a significant role in strengthening bilateral trade relations.
“There are good grounds for the development of transit routes across the borders of two countries,” he further noted, adding that joint seminars between the two countries’ experts must be held to discuss and explore the ways to develop transportation cooperation in an effort to increase trade relations.
Earlier on Monday, Ahmad Nour said that Chabahar is of vital importance to his country, underlining that the Afghan government and private sector are eager to see the port in full swing.
He made the remarks in an interview with an Iranian news outlet, highlighting the prime role of Iran's port city of Chabahar in promoting regional interaction.
Commenting on the impact of US anti-Iran sanctions on the relations between Iran and Afghanistan like those related to Chabahar, the diplomat pointed out that Chabahar project has been exempted from US sanctions.
He said Chabahar will play an outstanding role in enhancing regional interactions in future as regional countries are determined to turn it into an important hub.
Noting that the agreement to develop the port as a joint project was signed by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and his Afghan counterpart President Ashraf Ghani as well as the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 21, 2016, the Afghan envoy to Tehran said that over 100,000 tons of wheat have been transported from India to Afghanistan via Chabahar.
Underlining the importance of Chabahar port for his country, Nour said that both Afghan government and its private sector are interested in activating the port.
“Many regional countries especially in the Central Asia are looking forward to getting a similar opportunity with the port,” he reiterated.
“The agreement is certainly a point of main interest for Iran,” he said, adding that India also as an economic superpower in the region and the world is investing hope on Chabahar.
He called on Iran to pay more attention to Chabahar to make it into an export-import port.
Referring to the long history of US hostility towards Iran, Nour commented on any probable impact of such policies on Iran-Afghanistan relations, stressing that US presence and its strategic ties Afghanistan has had no effect in Tehran-Kabul relations.
Terming Iran as a top exporter to Afghanistan, he urged Iranian government and the private sector to maintain and enhance relations with his country to supply high-quality goods.
Referring to a meeting on ways to implement Chabahar Agreement, he said that determining the transportation corridors and agreeing on executive protocols on port, road and customs areas were among the main achievements of the trilateral meeting of Iran, India and Afghanistan.
Based on statistics, India trades nearly 15 million tons of commodities with Russia and commonwealth of independent states (CIS), part of which is expected to be transited via the Port of Chabahar, the official said.
Earlier on December 24, Representatives from Iran, India, and Afghanistan signed a 9-article memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the Southeastern port city of Chabahar where they convened to hold the first follow-up committee on trilateral agreement of the city’s oceanic port.
Deputy Head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization Mohammad Ali Hassanzadeh recounted the news, adding that the next edition of the committee will be held in India.
It is rare in Iran and the entire region that a port can render both transit and transshipment services at the same time, Hassanzadeh said, adding that having the shortest distance with Asia-Europe shipping line and bordering with Afghanistan, Chabahar Port enjoys an exemplary position enabling it to render both transit and transshipment services.
The committee aimed at finalizing the protocol to harmonize transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs.
Reportedly, detailed discussions were held between the three sides on drawing the necessary provisions for the full operation of the agreement. Further details are yet to be revealed.
In a related front, Earlier on October 12, Senior Iranian and Indian trade officials held a meeting in New Delhi to review ways to bolster bilateral relations, specially development of Chabahar port.
During the meeting in the Indian capital, Iranian Road and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Rastad and senior officials from India’s Ministry of Shipping and Ports Association explored avenues for bolstering and reinvigorating mutual cooperation, in particular the development of Chabahar port.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the development of Chabahar Port as well as the time and conditions of implementing the main contract.
The Indian company, IPGL, has been tasked with administering and running the terminal of the first phase of ‘Beheshti harbor’ at Chabahar port as a mere operator.
Supplying the equipment for development of the port by the Indian company was also on the meeting’s agenda.
During his two-day stay, Rastad visited Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT Port), a strategic Indian trade hub, and conferred with related officials on boosting ties between the JNPT Port and Chabahar Port.
Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean. In May 2016, Iran and India signed a deal to equip and operate containers and multi-purpose terminals at Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar with the capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $ 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.