First shipment of cargo leaves from Chabahar port for Southeast Asia

A ship carrying Iranian goods bound for Thailand left Chabahar port last week, marking the first time the strategic port has been used to ship a consignment to a Southeast Asian country.

MV Libra sailed from Shahid Behesthi terminal of Chabahar port, which is operated by an Indian state-run company, with 123 containers on July 29. This included the first ever shipment from Chabahar to Bangkok, people familiar with developments said.

The merchant vessel sailed to Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai and Mumdra port, from where the consignment will be transhipped to Thailand, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity. They said the shipment is significant in view of efforts by India and Iran to enhance the economic viability of Chabahar port.

The director general of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organisation, Behrouz Aghaei, was quoted by the Iranian media as saying that this was the first time aquatic products were shipped from Chabahar to Thailand.

Afghanistan recently sent a consignment of different products, including dried fruits, to India and China through Shahid Beheshti terminal as well, Aghaei said. The vessel carrying the Afghan goods was the fourth ship that left Chabahar for destinations such as India, China and Thailand during July.

India, Afghanistan and Iran signed an agreement in 2016 to jointly develop Chabahar as a trade and transit hub, including for markets in the landlocked Central Asian states to the north.

India has used Chabahar since 2017 to transport essential goods and humanitarian supplies, including wheat, to Afghanistan. About 60,000 tonnes of wheat has been shipped from India to Afghanistan through Chabahar since March. The port has also been used by Afghanistan since last year to export goods to India.

Hossein Shahdadi, deputy director general of Sistan-Baluchestan province’s ports and maritime department, told IRNA news agency the main goal of the Chabahar development plan is to boost the volume of transit and exports from Iran. A total of 627,000 tonnes of goods were unloaded at the port since March 20, and Shahdadi described the growth in the port’s handling of goods over the past two years as “remarkable”.

Chabahar is also the “safest and the most economically efficient route” for export and import of commodities from India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries, he said. Iranian officials are also eyeing the possibility of making Chabahar, which was granted a special waiver from US sanctions, the country’s third trade hub after Bandar Abbas and Imam Khomeini ports.

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