The nations of India, Iran and Russia will meet next month to discuss the operation of a 7,200 km trade and transport corridor that would present a cheaper and shorter alternative to the traditional Suez Canal-route.
The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a multimode network of sea and rail routes, will link the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf via Iran to Russia and North Europe. The project comes in the backdrop of China’s multi-trillion-dollar One Belt One Road initiative. On Iranian territory, the two routes would overlap in a potential boon to future businesses.
New Delhi has been actively courting Tehran, given the utmost importance it attaches to the route and Iran has been receptive. Once operational, the corridor will allow India to send its goods to Bandar Abbas in Iran by sea, from where they will be transported to Iran’s Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea by road. Next, they will be shipped to Astrakhan in Russia and transported into Europe by rail.
The route will cut the time and cost of delivering goods by about 30 percent. Compared with the Suez Canal, the corridor would reduce shipping time between Mumbai and Moscow to about 20 days. The estimated capacity of the corridor is 20 to 30 million tonnes of goods per year.
India’s Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu on Saturday met a Russian business delegation in New Delhi, where he said "all issues may be resolved in order to operationalize the (INSTC) route as early as possible."
Presstv.com reported on an official statement, saying that India, Russia and Iran will hold a trilateral meeting on November 23 to make the route operational soon, Indian media reported Tuesday.
To access resource-rich Central Asia, India has to route its goods either through China, Europe or Iran. The routes through China and Europe are long, expensive and time consuming, with Iran being the most viable one.