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Uzbekistan aims for triple increase in trade via Iran route

Uzbekistan hopes it could significantly increase its trade with India and other countries through a key corridor that passes through Iran.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s office said in a statement on Thursday that an effective use of Iran’s port of Chabahar would lead to a major surge in trade between the landlocked Uzbekistan and rest of the world, especially with India.

The statement said trade volumes through the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran route could triple now that Iran has taken a major step toward joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional bloc of countries that include India and Uzbekistan.

The comments came a day after Uzbekistan and Iran signed major agreements to expand their economic ties.

It also came after Iran formally signed an SCO memorandum of commitments that will pave the way for the country’s full membership in the bloc.

Indian media sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would discuss issues related to Chabahar in a planned Friday meeting in the Uzbek city of Samarkand with Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi.

India has committed to several development projects in Chabahar, a port which can facilitate New Delhi’s trade access to Afghanistan and landlocked countries in Central Asia.

However, Iran has been unhappy with the pace of works and the amount of investment provided by India to projects in Chabahar.

That comes as India’s works in Chabahar has been exempt from American sanctions targeting the Iranian economy since 2018.

A report by Sputnik news agency on Thursday said that Modi will have a key discussion on Friday with Uzbekistan’s Mirziyoyev about the increased use of Iran’s Chabahar in trade between India and Uzbekistan.

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