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Business News/ News / World/  Armenia pushes for infra talks with India
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Armenia pushes for infra talks with India

Armenia’s southern provinces lack infrastructure to ferry goods from Iran & into Central Asia, Europe

Armenia has expressed an interest in offering contracts to Indian infrastructure companies for the construction of roads. Mint Premium
Armenia has expressed an interest in offering contracts to Indian infrastructure companies for the construction of roads. Mint

New Delhi: India could find itself with a new partner in its quest to boost its trade and economic footprint in Central Asia.

Armenia, pursuing better economic ties with India and Central Asia, is set to push for increased Indian infrastructure investment, according to people aware of the matter. Mint has learnt that Armenia, which has enjoyed closer strategic ties with India over the last few years, is looking to push talks with New Delhi to breathe new life into the ambitious India-backed International North South Corridor (INSTC).

Armenia is also looking to expand tourism and business ties by re-establishing direct flights between New Delhi and Yerevan by spring this year.

The people cited above said Armenia is hoping for talks on the INSTC, the flagship project launched by India, Iran and Russia to create a 7,200 km long multi-modal transport network linking India to Iran, Armenia and Central Asia. The driving idea behind INSTC is to reduce transit time and trade frictions between the 13 countries that are part of the project.

If successful, Indian goods will have easier access to Central Asian and Eastern European markets. India’s economic footprint in these regions has been minuscule. Central Asian states like Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Eastern European nations like Ukraine are part of the project.

Armenia, the people cited above said, is interested in attracting Indian infrastructure firms to help improve connectivity with Iran, with which the Central Asian nation shares a border. The country’s southern provinces lack the infrastructure needed to ferry goods from Iran and into Central Asia and Europe.

In order to realize the INSTC agenda, Armenia has expressed an interest in offering contracts to Indian infrastructure companies for the construction of roads, tunnels and other physical infrastructure needed to connect the country to Iran.

However, these sources also stated that while Iranian companies have shown significant interest in these projects, Indian firms have largely been missing in action.

The government, however has shown interest in boosting connectivity between Iran and Armenia in an effort to bolster the INSTC and increase India’s economic reach. During external affairs minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to Armenia in 2021, the first ever by an Indian foreign minister, boosting connectivity under INSTC was a topline agenda item.

As part of this push, Jaishankar and his counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan proposed that Iran’s Chabahar, which will receive Indian goods by sea, be included in the INSTC. Increased connectivity with Armenia by road would then allow Indian products to move into Central Asian and European markets.

Armenia, which suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of regional rivals Azerbaijan in 2021, is a buyer of Indian-made 155 mm artillery systems, rocket launchers and anti-tank munitions.

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Published: 12 Feb 2023, 10:58 PM IST
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