By Reeti Mahobe:
The sixteenth NAM summit with a participation of 120 member states is being held at Tehran, Iran. Our concern here in this article is on the trilateral summit which will be shortly held, precisely on 30th and 31st of August, 2012. This particular summit has a lot of significance not just for India but also for Iran and Afghanistan. It has caught in the attention of all the world diplomats in the light of the enormous economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran for her nuclear programme alleged by US to be of ‘potential threat‘ to world peace contrary to Iran’s say, that it’s for civilian purposes only.
India has been the largest importer of Iranian oil for past few months with her mounting domestic demands for oil. Though US pressure had taken on this trade and India was forced to bring it down. But to India’s relief, US didn’t seem to show much reluctance to the pipeline programme with Iran like that of TAPI commenting that they don’t have ‘issues’ with pipeline. With increasing oil prices all over it’s of immense importance and concern for us to carry on this trade. Due to the sanctions that were imposed on Iran, India had to redirect trade via the Turkish bank and later on it was shifted to rupee financing. This is a good step forth.
Further the opportunities for ‘barter trade‘ are being dug upon. For this it needs to be kept in mind that Iran has a very high per capita income and the customers over there are quite demanding. The economists need to outline the basket of goods which can be traded over in return for oil. India also needs to watch and take on China’s trade with Iran which is currently flourishing. Now, as also highlighted by our foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, Chabahar port in Iran needs attention. Most of our trade till now with Iran has been via Banda Abbas port at Iran. Chabahar port has got benefits for trade not only with Iran but it also opens up the gateway to Central Asia and avoids the passage via Pakistan. Moreover, Chabahar being located along the border of Afghanistan, adds up to its advantage. Afghanistan being a landlocked country needs the assistance from such ports. Furthermore, we have a large stake on reconstruction of Afghanistan which would also be benefitted with this.
Infrastructure development is of highest relevance for Afghanistan in recent days. Systematized and well chalked out capacity building should be done and aid packages be given so that Afghanistan is at better position to absorb investments. Such a measure would also ensure smooth access to mineral resources of Afghanistan. The commitment of Iran and India on LNG in the past few days is another positive sign but we are seeking equity in this and need to develop proper gasification technology.
The discussion above all in all shows positive signs if there’s a MoU or an agreement coming up between the three nations. It has its advantages for all of the three, seen economically. Though we must maintain a ‘balance’ especially in regard to Iran in view of international politics. It is hoped that energy cooperation would go on and prospects for barter and port development would be looked at. In case of Afghanistan, we have already pledged support in rebuilding of Afghanistan as well as financial aid and the trilateral trade avenues would offer great opportunities.