US sanctions may affect trade along India-Iran-Afghanistan corridor

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) says the trade volume between Afghanistan and Iran is increasing but US sanctions on Tehran may affect trade relations between the two neighboring countries, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

This comes after US pulled out of Iran’s nuclear deal and threatened Tehran with new economic sanctions.

Iran is the biggest trade partner of Afghanistan, CEO of ACCI Atiqullah Nusrat said, adding that Afghan traders are interested in increasing trade volume with Iran and with India through Iran.

“This is worrying. We do not know on which sectors the sanctions will be imposed. We have shared our concerns with the US embassy’s economic department in Kabul, but they have no knowledge about it,” said Nusrat.

The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries meanwhile said Afghanistan will continue trading with regional countries, including Iran, based on national interests.

The ministry’s spokesman Musafir Qoqandi said Afghanistan will continue its efforts to prevent any problems that affect its trade relations with countries in the region.

“These sanctions might affect Iran’s economy, but we, based on our national interests, use different transit routes to prevent any problems. Iran will be part of our efforts for using different routes,” Qoqandi said.

In the meantime, concerns are rising in New Delhi that US President Donald Trump’s efforts to re-instate sanctions against Iran would jeopardize an ambitious multinational connectivity project involving India, Iran and Afghanistan, Iran’s PressTV reported.

Reuters quoted a senior Indian official as saying that the project — that would open a corridor for trade between the three countries while dodging Pakistan — would also eventually undermine Afghanistan’s economic development.

“President Trump’s decision has brought us back to the drawing board and we will have to renegotiate terms and conditions on using Chabahar,” a senior Indian diplomat said. “It is a route that can change the way India-Iran-Afghanistan do business, but for now everything is in a state of uncertainty.”

Launched in 2016, the multimodal Iran-India-Afghanistan corridor allows shipments of cargoes from India to Afghanistan through Iran’s southeastern port of Chabahar, currently developed by India.

Sergey Kwan

TCA