International North South Trade Corridor.

The North-South trade corridor was conceived during a conference on transport in Saint Petersburg on September 12, 2000. An agreement in this regard was signed by India, Russia and Iran. In 2005 Azerbaijan became a member followed by Belarus, Bulgaria, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkey and Ukraine. The objective of the corridor is to reduce the time of delivery of goods from India to Russia, as well as to Northern and Western Europe. Indian goods are transported to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf and shipped across the Caspian Sea for onward rail/road transport to Russia, Europe and Central Asian States. The corridor is the best alternate to Suez Canal route which is 16,000 kilometers long which follows Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Baltic Sea and Saint Petersburg (Russia) in 40 days. The new corridor is 7,200 kilometers long and has a multimodal transportation network which includes sea, rail and road routes. The corridor is 30 percent cheaper and 40 percent shorter than old route.

Iran has already facilitated India with a route to Afghanistan and Central Asia via the Port of Chabahar. On completion, Chabahar port will be connected with INSTC. This is known as India, Iran and Afghanistan corridor which will give India an alternative sea and land route to Afghanistan. Iran's objective is to strengthen its position in Central Asia to counter Saudi and Turkish influence. During the time of Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan, India constructed a 218-kilometer long Zaranj-Delaram Highway worth $150 million. The highway connects Kandahar in the South, Ghazni and Kabul in the East, Mazar-i-Sharif in the North and Herat in the West. At that time the objective of this project was to counter and bypass Pakistan to link Central Asian Republics for trade and linking it with Chabahar port. Another objective was to reduce Kabul's dependence on the Karachi...

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