India and Afghanistan have opened another air freight corridor connecting Herat to New Delhi to promote bilateral trade, bypassing their common adversary Pakistan.
The corridor was inaugurated just a few days after Afghanistan sent the first cargo shipment through the strategic Iranian port of Chabahar.
‘’The inauguration of the new corridor reflects India’s commitment to continue support to Afghanistan and its people to enable them to stand on their own feet,’’ said an official source.
In the first flight, 200 kg of saffron and 1600 kg of Pistachio was dispatched to New Delhi from Herat.
India and Afghanistan established a direct air freight corridor connecting Kabul to New Delhi in June 2017 after a decision was taken in September 2016 in a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Since then, the corridor also expanded to the Kandahar-New Delhi sector.
On 24 February, Afghanistan started a new export route through Iran’s Chabahar port that marked the first end-to-end use of the trade route for Afghan exports. The Zaranj-Chabahar route allows Afghan goods to reach India without crossing the Pakistani territory.
The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) recently said that Afghanistan’s economic dependency on Pakistan has gone down following the establishment of new alternative trade and transit routes with a number of countries including an air corridor with India.
Earlier, in January, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said that India would like to organise a ‘dialogue on air corridors’ with the participation of civil aviation authorities, air freight and aviation companies of India and Central Asia so that goods, including perishable items, could be transported efficiently and swiftly.
The air corridor between India and Afghanistan has upset Pakistan since it has considerably brought down Afghanistan’s dependence on its neighbour for trade with India.