ISSN 2330-717X

Who Will Control Iran’s Chabahar? India Or China – OpEd


Early this month, I had posted a blog “India to begin full-scale operations at Iranian port Chabahar in May 2021”. I had stated, “Indian US$500 million investment represents a clear and potent commercial challenge to China’s massive port investment in Gwadar port located in Pakistan, a key component of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).” Today, I am posting excerpts from an interview of Behrouz Aghaei, Director General, Ports and Maritime Department, Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran. 

Following are the key takeaways:

Iran calls Chabahar port the “Gate of Nations” and that is an indication of its view about this port’s future. Chabahar is going to be one of the top trade hubs in the region, linking the West Asian nations to CIS countries.

Not only China, but any other country that is willing to invest in Chabahar is welcomed by Iran provided that the economic independence of the port and the interests of the Islamic Republic are ensured.

Being Iran’s only oceanic port on the Gulf of Oman, Chabahar holds great significance for the country both politically and economically. Iran has taken serious measures for developing this port in order to improve its maritime trade. 

The first and most important issue that the Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) has taken into account when considering investment offers by foreign trade partners, is the port’s economic independence.

India currently works with Iran as an operator in this port and the country does not have an exclusive right over any part of this port.

Iran welcomes other countries to come and participate in the development of this port beside India.

Iran has been welcoming investors from all over the world to take part in the development of this port and benefit from its distinguished position as a trade hub in the region.

The recent agreement between Iran and China has increased the chances of this giant economy participating in the development of this port and to further contribute to the improvement of its global status.

China’s contribution to the development of Chabahar port would be a great opportunity for this port to further establish itself as a trade hub in the region since China is currently one of the world’s most advanced countries in terms of maritime and port industries.

Three of the world’s top shipping companies and operators are Chinese companies, for instance, COSCO is currently the world’s fourth-biggest shipping line which is operating at 45 ports worldwide.

China’s entrance into Chabahar port could lead to significant growth in this port because shipping lines and operators play a key role in the development of a port.

The activity of Chinese shipping lines in Chabahar port could increase the port’s trade exchanges with the world to a very significant level.

China is currently having maritime trade exchanges with over 162 countries worldwide and the activity of Chinese renowned shipping lines in Chabahar port would mean linking of the port to more than 45 ports and over 162 countries.

China plays a key role in the development of container ports around the world. Six of the world’s top 10 container ports are in China which means about 60% of the world’s container operations are taking place in this Asian country.

Research shows that the Chinese ports are going to register the world’s largest growth in terms of container trade by 2024.

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Shabbir H. Kazmi

Shabbir H. Kazmi is an economic analyst from Pakistan. He has been writing for local and foreign publications for about quarter of a century. He maintains the blog ‘Geo Politics in South Asia and MENA’. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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