Kabul (Agencies): Afghanistan has started shipping goods to India for the first time through a newly developed Iranian seaport bypassing the trade routes through Pakistan.
Afghanistan is the largest producer of pine nuts in the world, with an annual output of about 23,000 tons.
For decades, Pakistan has been allowing landlocked Afghanistan to use its seaports for international trade under a bilateral trade and transit agreement. It also allows use of overland routes for Afghan exports to India.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani traveled Sunday to the western Iranian border city of Zaranj to see off the inaugural convoy of 23 trucks loaded with 570 tons of cargo to the Chabahar port. The consignment is destined for the Indian port city of Mumbai.
President @ashrafghani cut the ribbon at Abrisham Bridge in Zaranj, Nimroz, and dispatched a set of cargo trucks carrying 570 tons of export goods. It is the first time that Afghanistan is exporting via #ChabaharPort; the destination of the convoy is India. pic.twitter.com/KXO6Zrr4Sa— ارگ (@ARG_AFG) February 24, 2019
Addressing the nationally televised ceremony, Ghani credited a “healthy cooperation between India, Iran and Afghanistan” for achieving the milestone. He said the new export route will help improve economic growth in his war-shattered country, saying “Afghanistan is not landlocked anymore.”
New Delhi has financed and developed Iran’s Chabahar Port to enable Kabul get direct and easy sea trade access.
India took operational control of a portion of the Iranian port late last year for 18 months and plans to send cargo ships from its ports of Mumbai, Kandla and Mundra every two weeks, according Indian media reports.
India successfully shipped 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan through Chabahar Port in 2017. That year, New Delhi also launched an air corridor with Kabul for bilateral trade.
China also opened an air corridor with Afghanistan in November and has since imported thousands of tons of Afghan pine nuts, bringing much-need foreign exchange to Kabul.