Iran has offered India $8 billion worth of infrastructure projects, including a stake in developing the strategic port of Chabahar, the country’s ambassador to New Delhi has said.
The two countries signed an MoU in May for Chabahar’s development in southeast Iran but a commercial accord is needed to implement the pact.
New Delhi wants to use the port’s potentials for connectivity, including its terminals to operate container and multi-purpose cargo ships for trade with Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries.
Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari said President Hassan Rouhani had offered Prime Minister Narendra Modi an expanded role for India to play in Iran’s connectivity plans.
“Connectivity is the main policy of Modi that coincides with Iran’s government policy. We have offered them, in connectivity, $8 billion of projects,” the Indian media quoted Ansari as saying.
Iran is fleshing out the transportation network on its southern coasts as it is developing an integrated transit corridor which connects the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea for a link with the Central Asia and beyond.
The International North–South Transport Corridor between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and the Central Asia for freight transportation by the ship, rail, and road will join the Silk Road — an ambitious plan championed by China to revive the ancient international trade route.
Rouhani’s meeting with Modi came during recent summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) nations in the Central Asian city of Ufa in Russia.
Ansari cited a “golden time” for India to seize on investment opportunities in Iran after the conclusion of nuclear negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries.
The focus is now on the removal of sanctions, with many governments and international companies having already started scouting business prospects in the country.
“The potential between Iran and India is great but we were just facing such a wall of sanctions, wall of American pressure,” Ansari said.
The ambassador urged India to put aside its past procrastination, citing Iran’s giant Farzad B gas field which New Delhi had been offered exceptional privileges to develop.
Ansari said the Indians were still the “first priority” to develop the field but “if they drag their feet, the market will not wait”.
India also plans a $3 billion aluminum smelter complex in Iran, its media said this week. The project was mooted in 2014 but India has been cooling its heels for the removal of the sanctions.
The country’s National Aluminium Co. is now seriously considering to implement the project after Iran and the P5+1 finalized their nuclear negotiations, media reports said.