Iran, one of the key founders of INSTC currently hosting the secretariat of the Corridor has an important role in moving forward the initiatives and projects that are essential for the corridor. Tehran is going to host the 7th coordination council and the INSTC ministerial meeting (31/09 to 02/11). India and Russia have also been enthusiastic about activating the Corridor.
India has partnered with Iran in the Chabahar Port development project, as well as the recent INSTC Friendship Rally. Port of Chabahar, located in southeast Iran, is one of the key locations in the INSTC. India’s International IPGPL Company has equipped and operated two terminals in Chabahar Port Phase-I with a capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a 10-year lease. Furthermore, the start of interim operations in this Port demonstrates the desire to actualize the goals of the INSTC. Russia is also eager to utilize INSTC instead of the traditional Suez Canal route. In addition, Russia has extensive cooperation with Iran in logistics, as well as rail, maritime and road transport.
Developing railway routes as one of the modes of transit in the Corridor is of vital importance. Azerbaijan has participated and invested in constructing the Rasht-Astara railroad, demonstrating how the INSTC has created partnership and cooperation between its member countries.
Developing infrastructure, including Iran’s ports in the north and south and railroads is a necessity for establishing the North-South Corridor. Equally essential is developing mechanisms that facilitate transit between the countries on the Corridor. There have been some initiatives, including reductions in tariff and port charges; however, deeper mechanisms that can coordinate and regulate procedures, for instance through INSTC Secretariat, are also required.
Other challenges pertain to competing approaches towards the corridor. That includes regarding INSTC as a mere transport corridor, without the potential to create further change or as the opposite--a venue for development. Reducing the INSTC to a means of cargo transport results in failing to reap benefit from INSTC’s full capacity in terms of trade, regional development, and international competition.
Due attention should be given to the fact that a transport corridor is the first step in fostering development. After transporting cargo and passengers along the corridor, trade relations in the starting and ending points of the corridor are expanded and in the final stage, economic growth is manifested all along the transport corridor.
To reach this stage, Iran and other member countries of the INSTC should expand on their potentials and capacities while also being aware of existing obstacles and trying to overcome them in order to better tap into existing potentials.
Therefore, INSTC’s operation is the first step towards increased trade and sparking cooperation in other areas such as cultural relations and tourism, all of which will culminate in economic growth and development for all the member countries.