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Landlocked Afghanistan Trade and importance of Chahbahar Port The strategic and geopolitical issue- ‌By: Asadullah Jegdalek
Wednesday, 01.23.2013, 07:54am (GMT+1)

Chahbahar and Gawader are two nearest sea ports on Indian Ocean for landlocked Afghanistan and central Asian countries Chahbahar is situated in Iranian Sistan - Baluchistan province on Makran coastline in gulf of Oman, While Gawader is a sea port in Baluchistan province of Pakistan on opposite side of Chahbahar, both are nearest sea ports for landlocked Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has again got the geopolitical importance as a major trade route between central Asia south Asia and eastern Asia.
Gawader was built with Chinese assistance by Pakistan as substitute and nearest sea port for central Asian countries for transit and trade. the Chinese also have benefits as Gawader is nearest sea Port for eastern Chinese province of Sanjiang,it should be mentioned that china  is a major business partner with Pakistan for competition and boosting trade relations with other countries of the region, as some Chinese companies are already working in mine explorations in Afghanistan and other regions so there is a tremendous need for Chinese road- sea access to those regions through Pakistan as a major business partner. This is a joint Pak-china effort to have access to mineral rich regions of south and central Asia.
While for competing in the market the Indian and Iranian also grouped to establish an adverse sea port in Iranian Baluchistan Chahbahar region, Chahbahar port was financed by Indian government  to benefit from mineral rich south and central Asia and Afghanistan, Indian mines companies already have several contracts for mining exploration in Afghanistan and the region as Pakistan is their rival and competitor in the region so they chose Chahbahar port to have access to mining rich regions of central Asia and Afghanistan ,now the competition has become very tense between Pak-china versus India- Iran.
                              Trade competition between India-Iran versus Pakistan-china
India even have financed the Zaranj -Delaram road in Afghanistan which leads to Chahbahar and also have a plan to construct a railway track from Zaranj to Hajigak iron mines of central Afghanistan Bamyaan province. Many Indian mine exploring companies have already signed contracts with afghan companies and afghan government for mineral explorations in Afghanistan
The intensification of the competition have turned the transit routes in to trouble regions there is insurgency in Baluchistan , for independence , the Pakistani government blame it on Indians , and the presence of Taliban in Nemroz and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan near the Chahbahar region.  During the construction of Zaranj-Delaram road India lost more than 30 personal in that volatile region.
The main reason which is hindering Afghanistan from joining in to trade with neighboring countries is lack of security, Insurgency, weak government, poor infrastructure, poor road links, and red tape policies. And this situation also hinders multibillion corporations for direct investment.
Afghanistan has become a football between opportunists seeking vast resources using religion as a tool to have hegemony over these bootees.
So the future strategies and planning are in the hands of Afghanistan how it can perceive and analyze the issue and how it reacts and how it can evaluate the present situations and choose the most advantageous path for its benefits. But the problem is that Afghanistan have been pushed in to a defensive position for the vested interests of regional countries, thus in the present circumstances it cannot utilize its resources properly , it is crystal clear that Afghanistan is an aid economy surviving on foreign aid and donors, and it is very important for developing economies  in Asia to have strong military for defense as Japan, Taiwan , south Korea , Malaysia ,turkey, Pakistan , china, India, here the position of Afghanistan is very weak ,so in the first step we robustly  need a strong army to defend Afghanistan from foreign interference and to secure trade routes  for safe passage.
In the past ten years Afghanistan has gradually improved its economy , if we study Afghan economy, the economic indicators  such as employment, current level of GDP, GNP, show us positive improvements, but we still cannot produce sufficient food production to feed whole of Afghanistan, we are import oriented economy so there is a tremendous need for import-substituting industrialization, because we are losing billions of dollars on importing goods which are turning us only in to a consumption market and great amount of hard currency is going out of the country so we need to be a production market as well to compete in the global market to get our share of the pie.
Import-substituting industrialization
Majority of countries that have become major exporters of manufactures  initially protected their manufacturing sectors against foreign competition, India , south Korea, Taiwan , Japan, England, Malaysia, Mexico  are some of the examples. The import substituting industrialization is also called the early stage of industrialization, when it reaches to a stage to fulfill the domestic demand then the next stage is surplus production for export, so Afghanistan as a LDC can apply high tariffs and quantitative restrictions on foreign goods to limit or exclude the competition from imports, even this is done in the US. The government of Afghanistan should give facilitation and encouragement to manufacturing industries in the form of legal support, subsidies and tax relaxation it will pave the way for mass small scale industrialization.
The government of Afghanistan should subsidize the private sector and also pave the way for foreign direct investment which will in return bring technology transfer to Afghanistan and locally surplus production will boom when this applied more and more banks and other businesses will open their branches here and thus circulation of money will increase and it will also create more jobs. One thing to notice Afghanistan should have excellent roads railways, ports, and power dams to boost business.
The port of Chahbahar is a great achievement of Afghanistan as another sea route for the outer world it is nearest to business centers as Dubai and other gulf countries , there is a plan of Indian government to build a railway track to connect Afghanistan with Chahbahar port which will increase the trade valium with neighboring countries , it will expand the business horizon with India as will through sea route , it is in the advantage of Afghanistan to increase trade with India as they have economies of scale which will benefit Afghanistan in the large extent.

Asadullah Jegdalek
Ministry of commerce and industries

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