Iran Signs Formal MoU To Join SCO; To Join Permanently At 2023 India Summit

Iran has agreed to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has given India more momentum in its efforts to promote inclusive connectivity in the Eurasian area in contrast to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the foreign minister, tweeted on Wednesday that he had signed the agreement. He is travelling to Samarkand with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in support of the SCO Summit.

In March, formal negotiations between Iran and the SCO began in preparation for Tehran’s membership. Later, the Iranian government approved Iran’s participation. Iran will participate in the SCO summit held by India in 2023 as a full member.

In Samarkand, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is anticipated to meet the Iranian President for the first time after Raisi’s election as president of Iran in 2021. ET has learned that a significant visit to strengthen Indo-Iranian relations is also planned.

Assuring seamless cooperation between India, Iran, and other Eurasian states besides Russia, sources claim that Iran’s entrance into the SCO will strengthen India’s Eurasian outreach. India too maintains that some degree of the world’s energy security will be addressed by Iranian oil’s admission into the market.

A flurry of interactions between New Delhi and Tehran have taken place in the lead-up to the SCO Summit with a focus on enhancing connectivity mechanisms, particularly the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and Chabahar Port.

India’s strategy to engage further with Central Asia and Russia as well as the rest of Eurasia is centred on Iran. ET has learned that a trilateral agreement will be reached by Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan to improve the operation of the INSTC.

In comparison to the same period in 2021, Iran’s exports to India increased in value by 35% in the first seven months of 2022. India purchased goods from Iran in the first seven months of this year for $361 million. Most of this was food-related.

India’s exports to Iran from January through July of this year increased by 54% year over year to $1.243 billion.

The former Iranian ambassador to India stated that the two nations were attempting to diversify their payment methods in order to increase bilateral trade in late May.

In addition to recent initiatives to improve the infrastructure in the strategically located Chabahar Port, India is extending its marine partnership with Iran. A Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Recognition of Seafarer’s Code of Conduct for Unlimited Voyages was signed by the two parties last month at the same time as India’s Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal visited Iran. Iranian mariners will train in India as a result of this.

Those with knowledge of the situation, the MoU will also open up new avenues for collaboration in the Western Indian Ocean Region (IOR), as Iran and India are both IOR states. In the long run, India is considering a trilateral maritime partnership with Iran and Oman.

The growth of goods transit through the Chabahar port is a priority for the Iranian government as it prepares to sign a long-term agreement with India. The goal of this contract is to increase INSTC activity.

In order to deliver six mobile harbour cranes to the Indian Ports Global Chabahar Free Trade Zone, Sonowal had travelled to the Shahid Beheshti terminal of the Chabahar Port. The two nations decided to establish a cooperative technical committee for the efficient operation of the port during his visit.

The Chabahar Port is projected to serve as a catalyst for maximising the region’s enormous trade potential. For the best use by Central Asian republics and other Eurasian states, India has proposed connecting the port with the INSTC. The corridors are anticipated to offer a different route to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Additionally, there are proposals to connect the INSTC to the Northern Sea Route via the abundantly resource-rich Russian Arctic. India is likewise vying to link the port with both East and Southeast Asia.

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