Are India and Iran set to rope in Armenia in giant North South Transport corridor?

Dec 6 2023

The 7,200 km route charted by the International North South Transport Corridor

India is eyeing to develop a few infrastructure projects in Armenia with a view to boosting connectivity and seamless transfer of goods through Iran and then to the Black Sea region and finally to Europe. India and Iran which have pressed the pedal on boosting connectivity have evinced interest in including Armenia in supporting the Chabahar port project along with the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

“India and Iran are closely cooperating as part of the North-South international transport corridor initiative, which connects the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf with the Caspian Sea, towards Russia and Europe. We are ready to work with Armenia to understand how the country can benefit from the opportunities of this corridor,” Nilakshi Saha Sinha, Ambassador of India to Armenia said.

Sinha added that certain Indian companies are looking to participate in the infrastructure projects.

According to Mehr News Agency, the Armenian government suggested in 2021 that Indian companies use Chabahar for cargo shipments to not only Armenia but also neighboring Georgia, Russia, and even Europe.

The 7,200 km long INSTC is expected to boost trade between India and the Gulf and Central Asian countries.

India and Iran are also set to look at inking a Preferential Trade Agreement.

In August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in South Africa to discuss matters of bilateral and regional importance including connectivity and trade.

Raisi underlined the need to take India-Iran ties to a “new level” especially with a focus on economic and commercial engagements.

Until 2018 – when the US sanctions kicked in, Iran was one of the primary oil suppliers for India. “For New Delhi, letting go of Iranian crude supplies was a difficult transition as it moved to other suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and as far as Nigeria and Angola to spread its energy import risk,” Observer Research Foundation said.

Meanwhile India and Armenia are recharting their bilateral ties. The two have also signed a memorandum of understanding during the Global Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) Summit held as part of G20 Digital Economy Working Group meeting held in Pune earlier. The MoU is intended to increase exchange of successful digital solutions for digital transformation.

“We have very long historical ties. I call this civilizational partnership… Some day we will turn this into a strategic partnership and I think that day is close. We share common interests and we have no contradictions. This must be institutionalised in a long-term cooperation between the two countries,” Armenian envoy in India Youri Babakhanian said earlier at a seminar organised by India Central Asia Foundation.