By Alireza Ramezani, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Among the many delegations that have visited Iran since the Jan. 16 lifting of nuclear-related sanctions, India has been among the few that have managed to actually secure a major economic deal with the Islamic Republic.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed 12 agreements, including a deal to develop Chabahar — a port city on the Gulf of Oman — shortly after he paid an official visit to Iran in late May. India committed to immediately invest about $500 million in the Iranian free trade zone, while it also vowed to spend an additional $20 billion to develop the port city with roads and railroads running inland to the north.
Expressing satisfaction with the agreement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called it a “political and regional” deal that could connect India through a “reliable route” to landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Iran sees Chabahar as an opportunity to diversify its trade partners, as it practices a macroeconomic policy strongly supported by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who gives preference to Eastern partners who act rather “independently” when it comes to the United States’ Iran policy.
During a meeting with Modi on May 23, Khamenei expressed satisfaction with the Indian government’s policy “not to join Western and American coalitions to the so-called campaign of the war on terror.” He added that the Islamic Republic welcomes further cooperation with India, which is one of the emerging economies in the world, adding that Tehran has been serious in implementing its bilateral agreements with New Delhi.