1055 GMT January 20, 2019
Director General of Chabahar Free Trade Zone Organization Abdul Rahim Kordi announced that more than 3,000 companies have registered to set up business in Chabahar, reported Fars News Agency.
He added that 400 out of the 3,000 companies which have registered are from 15 countries.
Addressing the Iran-India Economic Forum, Kordi said that as a new regional actor in the Middle East, Chabahar plays a special role in economic diplomacy of the region.
"The Chabahar agreement, between Iran, Afghanistan and India, is a milestone in the development of relations between the three countries, and will have a special impact on relations among countries in the region," he said.
The official noted that the presence of Indian port operators in Shahid Beheshti port of Chabahar has increased the importance of Chabahar.
"Changes in regional economic arrangement and justification of industrial and logistic activities in Chabahar concurrent with completion of the basic infrastructure has opened up a new chapter in the regional and international role of Chabahar," he added.
Kordi noted, "In the past two years, we have witnessed a dramatic growth in the demand for investment in this area, and the number of the finalized investment contracts in this period is more than the total investment contracts signed over the past 10 years."
He added, "We have been working hard to provide the necessary infrastructures for attracting more investment."
India's Shipping Ministry officially announced in a statement on Monday that the country has taken over the operations of strategic Chabahar port in the Sistan-Baluchestan Province of Iran's southeastern coast, during the Trilateral Agreement meeting in the port on December 24.
The heads of Indian, Iranian and Afghanistan delegations jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian SPV — India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ) at Chabahar.
"The physical take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and Office building was completed by December 29, 2018," the statement said.
"This step marks the beginning of a long journey. India has written a history with its engagement in Chabahar and is now leading the regional cooperation and joint efforts to support land locked Afghanistan. This is the first time India will be operating a port outside its territories," the Indian government's statement said.
India began interacting with Iran on Chabahar Port around 2003 but a major push was received in the second half of 2014, resulting in the signing of an MoU between the two countries.
The statement added that the challenges facing the contract between Iran and India were resolved through a formal short term contract between the two sides which was signed on May 6, 2018 during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to New Delhi.
Earlier on December 24, 2018, representatives from Iran, India and Afghanistan signed a nine-article memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Chabahar where they convened to hold the first follow-up committee on trilateral agreement of the city's oceanic port.
Deputy Head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization Mohammad Ali Hassanzadeh announced the news, adding that the next round of the committee will be held in India.
The committee aims to finalize the protocol to harmonize transit, roads, customs and consular matters for making the route attractive and decrease logistic costs.
Reportedly, detailed discussions were held between the three sides on drawing the necessary provisions for the full operation of the agreement. Further details are yet to be disclosed.
Earlier on October 12, senior Iranian and Indian trade officials met in New Delhi to review ways to bolster bilateral relations, especially development of Chabahar port.
During the meeting in the Indian capital, Iran's Deputy Roads and Urban Development Minister and Head of Ports and Maritime Organization Mohammad Rastad and senior officials from India's Ports and Shipping Ministry explored avenues for bolstering cooperation, in particular the development of Chabahar port.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed the development of Chabahar port as well as the schedule and conditions for implementing the main contract.
The Indian company, IPGL, has been tasked with administering and running the terminal of the first phase of 'Beheshti harbor' at Chabahar port as a mere operator.
Supplying the equipment for development of the port by the Indian company was also on the meeting's agenda.
During his two-day stay, Rastad visited Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT Port), a strategic Indian trade hub, and conferred with related officials on boosting ties between the JNPT Port and Chabahar port.
Chabahar is Iran's closest and best access point to the Indian Ocean. In May 2016, Iran and India signed a deal to equip and operate containers and multi-purpose terminals at Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar with the capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $ 22.95 million on a 10-year lease.