Chabahar International Transport and Transit Corridor

The Chabahar Agreement, officially known as the International Transport and Transit Corridor, aims to create a new transport corridor for the uninhibited shipment of goods through Iran’s Chabahar Port between Afghanistan, India, and Iran. The Chabahar Agreement comprises two principal aims: 1) facilitate access to international markets by using land, sea, and/or air transportation through Chabahar Port; and 2) simplify, harmonize, and standardize procedures governing the tri-country transport and transit of goods and passengers. India has invested significantly in Afghanistan’s Zaranj-Delaram Highway, a 135-mile-long highway that connects Zaranj near the Iranian border with Delaram and the Afghan-Iranian border with the Kandahar-Herat highway in Delaram. The highway connects the Chabahar port to the 1,300-mile Afghanistan Ring Road and 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Thus it creates North-South transport corridors linking the Indian sub-continent and land-locked Central Asia. The new infrastructure enables Afghanistan to access the Arabian Sea through Iran, and raises its potential to stimulate more investment from trade with advanced economies like India’s. Representing a pillar of the Afghan Government’s Infrastructure and Connectivity Development National Priority Program, the agreement follows on from the recent introduction of fifty Afghan companies to the Chabahar Free Trade Industrial Zone. Projected benefits to the Agreement’s signatories include the following: Chabahar’s strategic location at the crossroads of the expanding “North-South Corridor,” major investment from India in the port’s facilities, importation of duty-free raw materials and machinery, and investment guarantees through the Iranian government and Iranian insurance companies. Afghanistan is expected to benefit substantially from what effectively will be the most efficient access to the sea for this land-locked country, while altogether the Chabahar Agreement’s corridor is positioned as a pronounced pathway for Indian, Iranian, and Afghan trade throughout the region and beyond to Europe and China.

Current Status

The International Transport and Transit Corridor Agreement (also known as the Chabahar Agreement) was signed in Tehran (May 2016) by India, Iran, and Afghanistan. Subsequently approved by the Cabinet and ratified by the Afghan Parliament, the Chabahar Agreement constitutes the arrival of a major new route for the transport and transit of goods and passengers through Afghanistan, India, and Iran as carried out by multiple modes of transport along the routes approved by the Coordination Council (in accordance with Article 9 of the Agreement). Delegates from the ministries of Transport visited Afghanistan-Iran Border Crossing Points to analyze extant obstacles and challenges faced by drivers and traders. Subsequently an Implementation Plan was drafted by the Afghan Ministry of Transport and presented to the cabinet. Currently the implementation plan is being reviewed by a committee consisting of delegates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Transport to improve the plan and specifically make progress on a Draft of Single Project Plan for a “model” dry port in Zaranj (with the full range of customs, banking, cold storage, and logistics services provided). On 29 October the first shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was shipped through the Chabahar port in Iran. The wheat shipment is a landmark achievement, for it will pave the way for operationalization of the Chabahar port as an important connectivity corridor for Afghanistan. The project has the potential to serve as an important part of the Afghan Government's National Infrastructure Plan.

Budget & Funding Status Feasibility studies currently ongoing
Institutional Partners Afghanistan, India, Iran

Recommended Actions by RECCA-VII and Beyond:

  • Maintain support for key Chabahar Port infrastructure improvements
  • Schedule a Coordination Council Meeting among the Chabahar contracting parties, in order to prepare the three protocols of Transit, Customs, and Consular issues.
  • Proceed to finalize the general procedures of the Chabahar Agreement.