India, Iran shipping lines reviving joint venture
India’s largest carrier says it plans to revive a four-decade-old joint venture with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).
Shipping Corp of India (SCI) is making the most of the recent lifting of sanctions on Iran to resurrect the Irano Hind Shipping Co., the state-run Indian company’s chairman B B Sinha was quoted as saying.
“We don’t want this company to just die out. The other partner, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, has got great presence in the Caspian Sea,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.
India has been eyeing Iran’s routes to access the Central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. In May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged up to $500 million to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar along with rail and road links to Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea.
Modi traveled to Iran on the first visit in 15 years by an Indian leader to the country where India is considering up to $20 billion of investment in the ports sector and energy industry.
SCI and IRISL decided to end their joint venture in 2012 when Iran came under the most draconian sanctions ever by the West. The Indian company resumed crude shipments from Iran in July after Tehran reached a nuclear agreement with world countries.
Shipping Corps of India holds 49 percent of Irano Hind Shipping, while Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines controls the rest. According to Bloomberg, the Indian company is considering operating three bulk carriers and an oil tanker owned by the joint venture.
Iran and India have signed a raft to agreements which they must now begin to implement. Prime Minister Modi has described Iran’s trade route “a corridor of peace and prosperity” which “will positively impact the lives of people and deepen economic ties.”
New Delhi is a party to the International North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC), a multi-model route to link India and the Middle East to the Caucasus, Central Asia and Europe, being nurtured for significantly reducing costs and travel time and boosting trade.
The corridor is a brainchild of India, Iran and Russia formalized in 2000, which offers access to growing untapped markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Dry runs of the route were conducted in 2014, from Mumbai to Baku and Astrakhan via Bandar Abbas.
The ship, road and rail route connects India’s Mumbai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and further to Baku in Azerbaijan as well as Astrakhan, Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia before stretching to northern Europe and Scandinavia.