Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Rail Roads: Economic Development and Long Term Partnerships

Transport systems play a great role in changing the regional and international policy options of the countries. That’s why transport systems worldwide are undergoing rapid change. Globalization has created a demand for goods and services that makes improved infrastructure and more efficient transport systems a precondition for economic development. The role of transport in economic development is usually discussed in relation to its contribution to carrying goods and people domestically and internationally. The ability of countries, particularly their more isolated communities, to participate in trade depends on how effectively their transport and communications infrastructure gives them access to the global trading system.
At the same time, growing environmental concerns are prompting the introduction of new standards for exhaust emissions and other measures which will also influence the transport sector’s growth. Regional cooperation in this sector calls for well-integrated policies and the fulfillment of three main objectives: (a) Identifying primary constraints in transport-related areas that hinder the growth of regional trade; (b) Identifying measures that can be taken to enhance the efficiency of the sector; (c) Examining the options for financing the construction and Maintenance of them.
Asian countries will have difficulty in developing markets within and outside the region if they do not remove obstacles to transport which significantly raise the cost of doing business and weaken the competitiveness of goods. Such obstacles range from inadequate infrastructure and red tape to corruption in customs, restrictive bilateral protocols on the cross-border movement of vehicles, delays and pilferage in ports and lack of safe warehouses. In particular, these issues could prevent the region’s landlocked countries like Afghanistan from benefiting fully from liberalized trade. Reduced maritime transport costs and the speed and ease with which containers and their contents can be moved between one mode of transport and another have created new possibilities for global sourcing in production. In turn, this has provided the opportunity to explore national and regional comparative advantages and has been a major driving force of economic development. However, in many Asian countries institutional and infrastructural bottlenecks have meant that economic development has been largely confined to urban areas and coastline corridors, which have easy access to international maritime transport. Broad-based economic development through globalization makes it vital to remove the bottlenecks and create cost-effective maritime and land transport links.
Afghanistan as a landlocked country has suffered bitterly from the lack of transport infrastructure and access to the regional and international markets. Considering this, Afghanistan has taken many initiatives to encourage the regional countries to use Afghanistan as strategic transportation corridor to benefit the country and the region. The Rail link from Herat to Khaf in Iran that links Afghanistan to the European countries is one of the main strategic projects that can dramatically change the relations between Iran and Afghanistan. It also would contribute immensely to help Afghanistan to reduce its dependency on Pakistan transit routes that have always been used as a pressure tool against Afghanistan. This rail road for both cargo and passengers is under construction and estimated for completion in two months.
Chabahar rail road is another strategic transport project that enables Afghanistan, India and Iran to exchange their commercial goods through it. The aim of this project is to link India and Afghanistan to the central Asian and Indian Markets. Such initiatives will further interlink the national interests of the relevant countries to each other and will pave the way for a comprehensive and long term partnerships in cultural, trade, security, economic and other areas of bilateral multilateral interests.