‘Unprofessional and Imbalanced Move,’ Says Tehran After Adani Ports' Ban on Iranian Containers

© AFP 2022 / SAM PANTHAKYThis photo taken on December 21, 2016 shows a container ship (R) docked at India's Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in Mundra
This photo taken on December 21, 2016 shows a container ship (R) docked at India's Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in Mundra - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
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India’s anti-smuggling agency the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) last month seized almost 3,000kg of Afghan heroin, worth nearly $24 billion, hidden in two containers at the western seaport of Mundra -- the largest handler of commercial freight. India says that the heroin reached the country via Iran's port of Bandar Abbas.
Iran has expressed concerns over a recent advisory by India’s largest ports’ operator Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones Limited’s (APSEZ) to ban container cargo from Iran.
The concern was shared as officials from both India and Iran called a virtual conference to discuss cooperation in drug trafficking on Wednesday (14 October).

“Iran - as the country which has suffered from many trade restrictions and unjust sanctions for more than 40 years and as the champion whose sincere efforts and sacrifices in fighting all the said devils has been praised by the United Nations - is once again being targeted unfairly,” a statement from the Iranian embassy after the meeting read.

It is being done "through denial of trade and banning its consignments as an unprofessional and imbalanced move," the statement added.
Iranian officials also told Indian counterparts during the virtual meeting that occupation of Afghanistan by foreign forces, infighting between various groups, and severe poverty have all contributed to the rise in narcotics production in the central Asian country.

“As an immediate neighbour to Afghanistan, Iran has also been significantly affected by other developments in that country,” the statement further said.

The Indian delegation was led by Satya Narayan Pradhan, the director-general of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), and comprised delegates both from the NCB and the foreign ministry.
On 11 October, APSEZ announced that it would stop handling ]containerised cargo from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, almost a month after nearly three tonnes of Afghan opium was seized at the Mundra port on India’s western seaboard.
APSEZ, a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, the Indian business conglomerate backed by billionaire Gautam Adani, controls 13 port terminals, which represents 24 percent of the country's port capacity. It has said that the trade ban is advisory and takes effect on 15 November.
The Indian Express reported this week India’s total imports from Iran totalled almost $1.4 billion for the 2020 financial year, which included the imports of chemicals, dry fruits and wool.
The decision by APSEZ comes as Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi has asked New Delhi to intensify “economic cooperation” between the two nations since he assumed office in August this year.
Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian - during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month - also urged his Indian opposite number, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to work towards finalising a preferential trade agreement (PTA) at the earliest opportunity.
Ebrahim Raisi gives a news conference after voting in the presidential election, at a polling station in the capital Tehran, on June 18, 2021. - Raisi on June 19 declared the winner of a presidential election, a widely anticipated result after many political heavyweights were barred from running. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.07.2021
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The negotiations for a PTA between the two countries started in 2016 and, so far, five rounds of talks have been held.
However, the trade negotiations were adversely affected by former US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to pull his country out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 and impose punitive economic sanctions on Iran.
Since Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 US presidential election, there has been an apparent willingness by the US to re-join the JCPOA and New Delhi has steadily been firming up its economic ties with Iran.
Tehran said in July that trade between Delhi and Tehran had increased in the March-June quarter this year by 240 percent compared with the same quarter last year.

Iran An 'Important Partner' for India, Says Ex-Envoy

Diplomat and India's former ambassador to Jordan, Libya and Malta, Anil Trigunayat, notes that cooperation between Tehran and New Delhi is crucial for Indian interests, more so since India views Iran as its economic gateway to Afghanistan, central Asia and beyond.
"Iran is an important bilateral partner for us and also figures prominently in India's plan to boost connectivity with other countries in the region," says the ex-Indian envoy.
Trigunayat reckons that Adani Ports' trade advisory could affect trade between not only India and Iran, but also with Afghanistan.
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He, however, argues that "plugging the loopholes" in the flow of narcotics between the countries is also important.
"Both the countries should work towards creating a joint mechanism to combat the flow of illicit drugs from Afghanistan," the former envoy states.
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