2016-07-05 14:14 科尔尼管理咨询公司
原文标题：Another New Silk Road?
中文摘要：科尔尼咨询公司合伙人Erik R. Peterson及咨询师Elena McGovern在《另一条新丝绸之路？》一文中表示，近日，印度宣称将投资5亿美元开发伊朗恰巴哈尔深水港，或许将改变中亚和南亚商业物流和供应链格局。这将加强印度市场与中东的连接，打开中亚市场。这一合约也将使包括基础设施在内的伊朗关键经济领域获益于外国直接投资。印度对恰巴哈尔港口的投资并非新闻。环绕恰巴哈尔港的自贸区将是真正受益的私营部门。印度国家石油公司4月宣称将投资2亿美元在港口自贸区建立石化、化肥工厂等设施。这将促进伊朗人口和中亚天然气的流动，支撑印度增长的能源需求。
The recent announcement that India will invest $500 million to develop a deepwater port in the southeastern Iranian city of Chabahar is a potential game changer for business logistics and supply chains throughout Central and South Asia. It will improve India’s market access to the Middle East and open up Central Asia, which has been largely off-limits to Indian goods. This deal is also emblematic of a post-sanctions reality for Iran, which stands to benefit from substantial foreign direct investment (FDI) in key areas of its economy, including infrastructure.
The logic of Indian investment in a port at Chabahar is not new. New Delhi and Tehran first discussed plans for the project in 2003, but bureaucratic delays and the tightening of international sanctions prevented its progress until now. It was therefore with large fanfare that on May 23, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Tehran a commitment of $200 million to construct two terminals and five berths at the Chabahar port and another $300 million for other port-related infrastructure. New Delhi is also financially supporting the project in other ways, including a credit line of up to $150 million from the Export-Import Bank of India to modernize cargo facilities. Other countries are also looking to capitalize on this opportunity, with suggestions that some form of an investment deal will be announced during a visit to Tehran by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe planned for later in 2016.
But the likely real prize for the private sector is the free trade zone that will surround the port of Chabahar. Indeed, India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) stated in April that it was open to a $20 billion investment in petrochemicals and fertilizer plants, an LNG plant, and a natural gas cracker in the Chabahar free trade zone. These investments would facilitate the flow of Iranian and potentially Central Asian natural gas to support India’s growing energy demand. The same logic likely applies for Japanese and other energy security-minded investors. For their part, the Japanese have already expressed interest in investing in the port.
The port would also be a huge boon to Iran. Approximately 85 percent of all Iranian maritime trade currently flows through the port of Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz (see figure 1). But Bandar Abbas is overcrowded and is not a deepwater port, so Iran heavily relies on the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai for transshipment. With its own deepwater port at Chabahar, seaborne imports and exports would flow much more efficiently into and out of Iran. Chabahar will also provide a much needed entrée into landlocked Central Asian markets for Indian and Middle Eastern goods, as well as an opportunity to eventually pipe Central Asian gas south for export, including to India.
India is keen to increase trade with Central Asian countries for both economic and geopolitical reasons. Indeed, India has pursued a “Connect Central Asia” policy since 2012, driven in large part by the region’s substantial natural resources, including hydrocarbons and uranium. Modi, upon wrapping up his July 2015 visit to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, said: “I return to India convinced that India and Central Asia must reconnect… We will reach you through Iran…” This is part of India’s general push to increase its exports and expand its broader foreign policy interests into what it terms its “extended neighborhood.” The development of Chabahar thus seems like a win-win-win proposition, if the project and its associated overland infrastructure receive the necessary investments and political backing.
The opportunity certainly exists to increase Indian exports to Central Asia. For example, according to the World Bank, Indian goods accounted for less than 1 percent of total imports into Kazakhstan in 2014, while Russia and China dominate (see figure 2). India has had to rely on Pakistan―its greatest geopolitical rival―for trade access over land to these markets. As a result, Indian shippers have resorted to circuitous and less efficient options, including the Chinese port of Lianyungang, which has a rail link to Almaty, Kazakhstan along what the Chinese call the “New Eurasia Land Bridge.” This is part of China’s broader “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “One Belt, One Road” policies to create seamless transportation connections from China throughout Eurasia and into Europe.
The vision for the Chabahar port is, in fact, part of a wider effort by India, Iran, and Russia, as well as Afghanistan and several states in Central Asia, to establish an alternative trade route to China’s “Silk Road Economic Belt” through Central Asia. The agreement is known as the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and was first signed in 2002 to establish more efficient overland routes among the region’s cities. The success of Chabahar depends on the implementation of the INSTC, as businesses will need the overland infrastructure to actually move their goods throughout the region. For example, in 2009 India invested $1 billion and used the Indian Army Corps of Engineers to construct Route 606, a 217-kilometer highway linking the cities of Zaranj on the Iran-Afghan border―which connects via a southbound highway to Chabahar―and Delaram in Afghanistan―which connects to a circular highway linking several major cities including Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kunduz, with ongoing connections into Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
But the same geopolitical tensions that prevent India from moving goods through Pakistan efficiently also affect the Chabahar port development. Pakistan and China see the project as in direct competition to their joint development of Gwadar port and free trade zone in Pakistan, which is just 76 nautical miles to the east of Chabahar. Gwadar port is part of a broader $46 billion Chinese investment into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There are other downside risks to the Chabahar port project as well, including bureaucratic and political delays in both India and Iran, as well as potential US objection because of enduring Iran sanctions. In addition, relying on Afghanistan for the overland route to Central Asia requires some degree of lasting security there. And finally, Gwadar is only one of a set of recent port modernization, expansion, and greenfield projects in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean littoral, including in Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh, and UAE (often with Chinese investment), underscoring the need for Chabahar to be competitive as a transshipment hub beyond India’s direct interests.
With all of these factors at play, the Chabahar port is far from a done deal. But its development is worth monitoring closely for the important implications it will have for economic growth and development in South and Central Asia, particularly the two giant markets of India and Iran. The future of the Chabahar port―as well as the plethora of competing and complementary port, road, and rail projects―will also dramatically affect the business operating environment in South and Central Asia by potentially redrawing supply chain routes throughout the region and beyond.