23 January 2016
With international sanctions lifted against Iran last week, New Delhi would be wise to step up its efforts to secure the contract for developing the Chabahar port in Iran. Time is no longer on its side as the writer observed during a field trip to Chabahar.
With the lifting of international sanctions against Iran following the P5+1 nuclear deal, Asian powers such as India and China are stepping up their competition for big infrastructure projects in the Islamic republic. However India, which had signed an agreement (MOU) to develop the Chabahar port on the Indian Ocean, nine months ago, finds itself mired in technical talks and other difficulties related to the commercial contract. China, meanwhile, is set to boost its bid with President Xi Jinping’s current visit to Iran and the Middle East.
India has already missed its first deadline for concluding the commercial contract (originally November 5, 2015). The project’s first phase was slated to be completed by May this year –a second deadline that will certainly be missed. Up until now, India dithered over the Chabahar port project with good reason – the sanctions scuttled all plans of doing business with the regime.
Notwithstanding Iran’s agreement with India, Beijing has repeatedly expressed interest in developing the Chabahar port, Iran’s free port situated in the Gulf of Oman. A Chinese delegation led by the ambassador visited the city in November to reiterate this offer.
… Sumitha Kutty is Associate Research Fellow, South Asia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 25/01/2016