India and Iran to Ink 10-Year Chabahar Port Management Deal


India is poised to sign a deal with Iran, marking its inaugural management role in an overseas port, namely the strategic Chabahar Port, for a tenure of 10 years. The agreement, set to be inked, follows a prior pact signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Iran in 2016.

As per sources cited, Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is slated to journey to Iran for the signing ceremony. This excursion holds significance given that the minister is undertaking it amidst a busy schedule for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. India, having funded the port's expansion, will assume operational control following the agreement.

India seeks to transform the Chabahar Port into a pivotal transit hub within the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), facilitating connectivity with CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) nations. INSTC embodies India's strategy to streamline cargo transport between India and Central Asia, with Chabahar Port envisioned as a vital commercial transit nexus for the region.

The new pact, that will replace the original contract, will be valid for 10 years, and reportedly automatically extended. The original pact only covered the Shahid Beheshti terminal of Chabahar Port and was renewed every year. In 2016 a deal was signed between Iran, India and Afghanistan to develop the Shahid Behesthi terminal. 

Chabahar Port has, in the past, figured prominently in the talks between India and Iran, and the expansion of India’s role in the port was also discussed. The port, moreover, is also expected to be helpful for Indian traders and investors in Central Asia. 

Sonowal previously emphasized that the port serves as a crucial link between the prosperous Central Asian region and the South Asian markets, fostering substantial trade and economic partnerships while facilitating connectivity between the populations of these two regions. The transit and transportation capabilities of the Central Asian region are expected to be enhanced, along with the bolstering of their logistical networks.

The minister had expressed that the Chabahar Port would spearhead the advancement of a collaborative endeavor to establish a regional and international transport corridor. The objective also includes the establishment of universally acknowledged international standards, fostering good governance, upholding the rule of law, and ensuring equity at the port.