07 February, 2020
4 Min Read
Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Prelims and Mains focus: on the steps taken by the govt to improve connectivity with Central Asia; about Ashgabat agreement; Chabahar port; INSTC
News: Apart from developing trade via the Chabahar port in Iran, India would like to explore setting up “air corridors” between India and five Central Asian nations (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan)
What does it mean?
The air corridors — similar to what India established in 2018 with Afghanistan — would include regular cargo flights with special clearing and customs facilities to expedite the movement of goods, especially fresh fruit and other agricultural produce, and were currently being discussed by the MEA.
Reason for the move
At present, most of the trade between Central Asia goes via Bandar Abbas in Iran, northern Europe or China. In recent years, the government has been seeking to develop more direct routes from Chabahar, a trilateral arrangement with Iran and Afghanistan, the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and becoming a part of the Ashgabat Agreement. However, the rail link between Chabahar and the crossover into Afghanistan is yet to be developed, which would be an important part of growing regular trade. At present, $1.5 billion of the $2 billion in trade with Central Asia is with Kazakhstan, and more than $1 billion of that comes from crude oil exports to India.
Role of Chabahar port in providing connectivity to Central Asia
India, Iran and Afghanistan believe that Chabahar will become the fulcrum of connectivity for Indian goods to reach Afghanistan and further north to Central Asian states, and for the landlocked Central Asia to find access to ocean through this port. Budget 2020-21 has proposed Rs.100 crore investment to develop the Iranian port.
About Ashgabat Agreement
Source: The Hindu
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