Officials in Kabul said recent US sanctions against Iran have affected Afghan investors’ trading through Iran’s Chabahar Port – which is otherwise considered a good alternative for Afghanistan-Pakistan trade routes.
For example, business owners have not received payment for a talc shipment – comprised of 50 containers – which was exported to India eight months ago, according to Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, deputy head of the Chamber of Industry and Mines.
Paiman said the investors have not sent other talc shipments to Chabahar since.
“At least 1,000 (metric) tons of talc was exported through Chabahar Port to India but the exporters have not been able to receive their money over the past eight months,” he said.
The Ministry of Transportation said the Chabahar Port is exempted from the US sanctions on Iran but acknowledged that there are some challenges for Afghan investors in the seaport.
“The Chabahar Port is exempt from US sanctions but if there are any challenges, the Ministry of Transportation is committed to solving them,” said Ali Sina Saed, a ministry spokesman.
The Chabahar port is located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Iran’s southeastern coast (outside the Persian Gulf) and is of economic importance for the development of regional maritime traffic to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The agreement of the port was signed between Afghanistan, India, and Iran in May 2016. According to the agreement, the port will provide direct access to Afghanistan to India and other countries via sea.
“Chabahar is 700 kilometers closer compared to the Karachi port and it is 90 kilometers closer to the center of the country, Kabul. Therefore, distance has an impact,” said Kabul-based analyst Abdul Rasheed Janbaz.
On December 25 the United States gave a written assurance to India that it will help facilitate global banks to fund the purchase of equipment worth $85 million to be established at Chabahar Port.