instc: INSTC becomes operational as Russia sends shipments for Indian port

India, Iran and Russia opened the North-South International Transport Corridor (INSTC) – the shortest connecting route for India-Russia trade – days after Iran’s foreign minister’s visit to Delhi.

Russia sent shipments for India this Saturday from St. Petersburg, which will travel to India via the Caspian port of Astrakhan and the Iranian port of Anzali, and from there to the port of Bandar Abbas and then to the West Indian ports to operate INSTC , ET has learned.

“The shipments are two 40-foot containers with laminated wood with a total weight of 41 tons. The containers were loaded in St. Petersburg and are on their way to Astrakhan, where they will be loaded again in Solyanka port. They will then cross the Caspian Sea to reach the Iranian port of Anzali, where they will be transported by truck to the port city of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. The two containers will then be shipped to India’s largest container port,” Dariush Jamali, director of a joint Iran-Russia terminal in Astrakhan, told Iran’s IRNA news agency on Sunday.

The entire journey will take less than 25 days, compared to the nearly 40 days it currently takes to move goods from Russia to India and vice versa. In addition to reducing the time required for India-Russia trade, INSTC is seen as a viable option for India-Russia trade given the current geopolitical challenges. According to sources who declined to be named, in the longer term INSTC would be an alternative to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, which are dominated by a few powers and the Bosphorus.

Connectivity via Chabahar Port and INSTC was high on the agenda of the Iranian Foreign Minister’s visit to India last week. There was a plan to connect INSTC to Chabahar Port, which India has helped expand and will be used to connect to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

The INSTC is a 7,200 km multimodal transport network that includes sea, road and rail routes. It connects the Indian Ocean with the Caspian Sea via the Persian Gulf further to Russia and Northern Europe, providing the shortest connection between them. Multimodal sea, rail and road routes under the INSTC aim to reduce the cost of transportation between India and Russia by about 30% and cut the 40-day transit time by more than half.

The cornerstone of the North-South Transport Corridor was laid on September 12, 2000 under an intergovernmental agreement signed between Russia, Iran and India. Azerbaijan joined this agreement in 2005. This agreement has been ratified by 13 countries (Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Armenia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine). The project has several components — Northern and Western Europe — Russian Federation, Caucasus — Persian Gulf (Western route); Central Asia –– Persian Gulf (eastern route); Caspian Sea –– Iran Persian Gulf (Central Route).

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