Mohammad Haghbin Ghomi - Iran Consul General

IRAN’S WRONG, THERE’S NO WAY THAT BILATERAL TRADE WITH INDIA WILL REACH $30 BILLION

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Andrew Korybko

Writer at Indus News
Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst who also works with the OneWorld think tank (oneworld.press).
Andrew Korybko

The overly optimistic expectation of the Consul General of Iran in Hyderabad that his home country’s bilateral trade with India will one day reach $30 billion totally ignores the fact that New Delhi is abiding by Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Tehran’s oil industry and therefore destroying the foundation of economic relations between them.

There’s no way that Iran’s bilateral trade with India will realistically reach $30 billion anytime soon despite the wishful thinking of the Islamic Republic’s Consul General in Hyderabad. The official clearly isn’t accounting for the fact that the $18 billion in bilateral trade last year was largely due to India’s import of Iranian oil, which the country can no longer depend upon after New Delhi decided to abide by Washington’s unilateral sanctions against this industry at the beginning of May. Furthermore, the Mehr News Agency informed their audience that the fiscal year ended in March, meaning that next year’s numbers will probably even be lower. India has since cut off so much of its imports that the US felt the need to publicly praise it last month for being such a “great friend and partner” by doing so.

So long as India submits to the US’ sanctions pressure against Iran (and there’s no credible indication that it has any sincere political will to resist them), then it’ll be impossible for these two countries to increase bilateral trade to $30 billion. Even in the best-case scenario that both the Chabahar Corridor to Central Asia and the North-South Transport Corridor to Russia become active in a significant way by sometime early in the next decade, it’s extremely unlikely that the combined volume of trade transiting through them would be $30 billion a year right away. Not only that, but of the targeted amount, it’s unclear exactly how much would even stay in Iran anyhow since the country would pretty much be used as a highway for Indian trade and little else. It might use these infrastructure projects to increase its own future exports to both northern markets and India, but that would first require enough foreign direct investment to even give it that capability, which is still lacking.

After all, Iran intended to export $54.9 billion in non-energy products last year but only managed to achieve 63% of that with $39.375 billion in total exports. Going by the Consul General’s targeted figure, Iran would therefore have to export practically all of its non-energy products to India or at the very least have balanced trade with it with $15 billion worth of non-energy goods and services being sold by both sides, both scenarios of which go against the Islamic Republic’s principled position of avoiding strategic dependence on any single partner. In light of India making a fool out of Iran in three significant ways over the past year alone, Iran might actually be in the process of changing its approach to India as judging by two important statements made by its Foreign Minister and Parliamentary Speaker in the last week, thus making the goal of $30 billion in bilateral trade ever less likely to be achieved anytime in the foreseeable future if Tehran redirects its focus in response.

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Andrew Korybko
Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst who also works with the OneWorld think tank (oneworld.press). His personal views are his own and don't represent those of any institutions, organizations, or media outlets.

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