Afghan Minister Hails Tripartite Trade Agreement With Iran, India

January 9, 2003 - 0:0
KABUL -- Afghan Minister of Trade, Mostafa Kazemi, here Wednesday praised his country's signing of a trade and transit accord with Iran and India in Tehran Sunday, as a boost to the investors of Afghanistan as well as the world and the region.

The three countries signed two memorandums of understanding to expand cooperation in the economic, trade and transit fields, with Iran and India pledging to avail the land-locked country with their railroads and sea ports for the transit of goods.

"The conclusion of the (transit) accord is a big success for the three countries as well as the region," Kazemi told IRNA, adding, "One of the features of the recent trilateral agreements is that Iran has not put any restriction for transit of goods to Afghanistan".

Iran and Afghanistan first signed a transit agreement in 1973.

The Afghan minister said, "All restrictions have been removed in the new agreement" which permits his country to use all Iranian transit routes for the import and export of goods.

The new accord is valid for five years, subject to extension upon the two sides' agreement, Kazemi said, adding "In all, the agreement will expedite work and encourage investors to operate in Afghanistan".

The two sides have also projected to refer any dispute in their bilateral trade ties to "qualified international bodies", the minister said.

Afghanistan, because of being land-locked, looks at the southeastern Iranian Port of Chabahar as a "very important and suitable point" for transiting goods to Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.

According to the Tehran agreement, Iran has accepted to build a new transit route to connect its Milak in the southeast to Zaranj inside Afghanistan. It will be taken up by India to build a 210km road to connect Zaranj to Delaram.

The Zabol-Zaranj-Delaram route will connect Iran's Sistan- Baluchestan Province to Neamroze, Farah, Helmand and Kandahar provinces in Afghanistan.

The route has many advantages, one of which is that it shortens the distance from Iran to the southern provinces of Afghanistan by 800km.

Iran and India further signed a protocol to connect Chabahar to the nationwide Iranian railroad network, aiming to boost trade in Central Asia.

Kazemi said the countries had prepared draft agreements with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to expand the network.

"The agreements altogether will lead to a better confidence among regional and world countries to bolster trade with Afghanistan and the region", he added.