The agreement was signed by Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industries Anwar al Haq Ahady and the Iranian Ambassador to Afghanistan Abolfazl Zohrevand.
The endorsement of the pact means Afghan traders including those directly working with American contracting companies will be able to use the southeastern port – Iran’s only port with direct access to the sea – for importing and exporting goods. The news of signing of this agreement comes as relief to US/NATO official since the closure of NATO supplies from Pakistan has caused massive setback in terms of finance to US/NATO.
Officials said the Chabahar port will help Afghanistan’s trade-related transit problems and is likely to boost commercial transactions.
Ahady said that, according to the agreement, the first step involves building a hub near the port for Afghan traders to have a base for trading from.
The allocation of land is around 50 hectares and he expects traders would be able to use it within a year, he said.
“Through the efforts of the Afghan and Iranian officials, Chabahar as a transit route for Afghanistan has become a reality,” he added.
A panel of officials from Iran who travelled to Afghanistan for the signing of the agreement said that many countries had applied to Chabahar Port for permission to use it, and Afghanistan with the help of Indian Investment had succeeded.
Ambassador Zohrevand welcomed the agreement saying it would help the economic expansion of Afghanistan as the port would provide greater access to Afghanistan into world markets.
“The outcome of this agreement is not only positive for Afghanistan and Iran relations, we also expect it to help the joint cooperation of Afghan and Iran traders so they can expand through cooperation to the Middle East and Asia,” he said.
The agreement eases the pressure on the US-backed Afghan Government to rely on trade routes through Pakistan, as relations between the two countries have witnessed significant restrains in recent months.
It also signals the warming of relations between Iran and Afghanistan. Only last week the pair endorsed an agreement to allow for the transfer of prisoners sentenced in the other’s country to serve their sentence in their native land.
by Shaikh Fahad