Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Opening New chapter of relations between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan gained its independence from Russia in 1991 and since then they have had peaceful and non-aggressive policies in the world particularly in regard to Afghanistan’s Affairs. Uzbekistan is considered a friendly neighbor of Afghanistan with the large-scale of trades more likely to be expanded it in the future. Few months ago, they reduced the electricity prices from the current 8.5 cents a unit to 5 cents a unit; it was supposed to be effected from the July of current year hoping to open a new phase of rivalry among power exporters in the region. Based on this, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) could purchase the 300 megawatts of electricity at the discount cost. On the whole, as” ACCI statistics show the trade value between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan last year was $600 million of which $200 million was Afghanistan’s exports to Uzbekistan and it shows the relations between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan have improved considerably in recent years.
Following this, on Sunday the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has received the government delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov, at Arg Palace. The Minister conveyed warm greetings and good wishes of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the president. President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, who participated and addressed the Tashkent International Conference on Afghanistan in March 2018, thanked the Uzbek side for vigorous efforts on promoting peace process in the country.
Uzbekistan’s foreign minister said the aim of their trip to Afghanistan was to brief the Afghan president about progress achieved between the two nations, about boosting cooperation and finding ways to further increase ties between the two countries.  They said dozens of Afghans and Uzbeks have invested in both countries and his country is ready to further invest in Afghanistan’s infrastructure including cement sector, the statement quoted.“Efforts are ongoing to create opportunities in Termez for public and private investment and also to address the issue of providing visas to Afghans,” he said.
He also said that “3,000 hectares of land has been put aside as a free trade zone close to Afghanistan’s border and that a commitment has been made to build a railway line between Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat which will cost about $500 million”. “We want technical teams from both countries to start work on the railway project and our country will cooperate with Afghanistan over establishing six textile factories in the country and in this regard, we are completely ready,” he added.
Ghani in turn said that Afghanistan has the capacity to boost the transport and trade sector and said he would order government organizations to provide a list of goods that can be exported to Uzbekistan in order to keep a balance in trade between the two countries. He also asked the visiting delegation to help establish five cement factories in the country and said that 10,000 hectares of land has been earmarked for the Mazar Industrial Park and preliminary work on the project has started. “Termez (city in Uzbekistan on the Afghan border) is critical and will provide the opportunity for fruit and vegetables to be exported from Afghanistan to Kyrgyzstan and Russia and this city also has cold storage (facilities) to store Afghanistan’sproduce,” Ghani said.
Ghani also ordered Afghan officials to assign a team to visit Uzbekistan in order to solve issues between the two countries. Kamilov meanwhile also met CEO Abdullah Abdullah and discussed bilateral relations, economic cooperation, trade, regional issues, and the Afghan peace process with him. “A new chapter has been opened over relations of both countries,” Abdullah said at the meeting with Kamilov and thanked Uzbekistan for its efforts in helping Afghanistan with its peace process. At this meeting, Kamilov said his country is ready to help Afghanistan end the warrant “play an active role in the peace process,” according to a statement quoted from the CEO’s office. Abdullah in turn welcomed Uzbekistan’s efforts in this regard.
Thus, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani,and other ministry level officials also met with the delegation led by Abdulaziz Kamilov on Sunday. Both sides discussed about bilateral ties and practical implementations of agreements during the meeting. “We are grateful for Uzbekistan’s support to our peace efforts and development projects,” Rabbani said. Mr Rabbani added that Afghanistan is keen to enhance bilateral cooperation. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the sides also exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
Overall, the current issues of bilateral relations, primarily implementation of agreements within the framework of the official visit of the President of Afghanistan to Uzbekistan and high-level talks in December 2017 were discussed between officials of both parts. In this context, issues of implementing major joint investment, transport and communication, trade and economic projects were considered. At the meeting, the consent of Uzbekistan to opening the Afghanistan consulate in the city of Termez was confirmed.
To end with, any types of economic cooperation with neighboring countries, especially Uzbekistan, serve as the ballast for Afghan stability and the propeller for the regional peace. So, Afghan government should take an active approach towards the technical and investment opportunities in building her infrastructures and businesses. We should not let the new type of relations stay as a concept or unpractical; we should push it forward and pave the way for more investments. The government should ensure the security of international business men and women who are interested to invest in Afghanistan. Due to lack of financial ability, there is no way for Afghanistan unless seriously pave the way for private and international investments so as to overcome the current economic crisis.