Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

New Economic Ties

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New Economic Ties

For the sake of Afghanistan’s stability, the neighbors, though sometimes part of the problem, can be made part of the solution and won as partners in a cooperative effort. Due to several reasons such as inactive diplomacies, unfriendly policies and overriding bilateral conflicts made this sometimes a difficult task. By linking Central Asia to South Asia and the Near East, Afghanistan occupies a strategic location. With better security and an improved infrastructure, Afghanistan could transport natural gas and electricity from Central Asia to South Asia, export mineral resources to China, and serve as the international hub for overland trade from ports in Iran and Pakistan. These developments have a greater potential to transform Afghanistan’s economy than any direct international aid or domestic investments.
It is one the rarest happy news that Afghanistan trade deficit balance is gradually increasing as the recent news indicates. “Our export has enhanced 12 percent and its import was 88 percent,” said Minister of Commerce and Industries Humayon Rasa. He also said that two years ago Afghanistan import was three percent while the export was 97 percent. “Comparing with two years ago, trade balance has moved toward positive,” Rasa added. He said that National Unity Government (NUG) runs different economic programs in order to gain people and private sector’s trust. Dialogue is going on between government and private sector to support private business for further achievement. He stated that membership of private sector in economic high council as an important governmental decision maker address is another positive step has been hold by the government.
It is said that Afghanistan used to import $2 billion different commodities annually from Pakistan, where the number significantly decreased up to $900 million imports in a year. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have faced significant challenges in their respective security, political relation and economic realms over the past years. Afghan businessmen constantly blame Pakistan for transportation barriers. Earlier huge number of truck drivers who were carrying goods from Pakistan to Afghanistan had staged days of demonstration for illegal extortion from Torkham up to Kabul city. Opening of the new business route has been one of the main demands of the Afghan businessmen to grow business with other neighboring countries; eventually, the need led Afghan Governmental officials to seek alternative business routes for growing economy of the country.
In the past 15 years, Afghanistan’s trade deficit had been widening as import was quite imbalance comparing to export. Afghanistan import has been reached around $10 billion and its export was over $500 million. Afghanistan main exports are carpets, rugs, dried and fresh fruits and medical plants and main imports are petroleum; machinery and equipment and food items. Afghanistan’s main trading partners were Pakistan, Iran, China, India, Russia, Turkey but recently Officials in Government of Afghanistan called Uzbekistan a good alternative business source instead of Pakistan, saying 15 years of business ties with Pakistan were full of ups and downs, amid Officials at Uzbekistan expressed readiness to be a good business partner with Afghanistan. Minister of Public Works Mahmood Balegh said, “Negotiations made, main points were marked, and necessary measurements were taken to pave the way for both sides take part in launching projects.”
Moreover the President’s economy Advisor Homayoon Qaumi assured that security will be ensured for the Governmental and private Uzbekistan companies trying to invest in Afghanistan. It was also said that Afghan ministries have drafted different agreements to be signed with the Uzbekistan government in order to boost up mutual trade and transit deals. Afghanistan and Uzbekistan Inter-government commercial and economic commission on Tuesday launched the 2nd conference in Kabul attended by ministers of agriculture, commerce, public works, transportation, energy and water, as well as public health. Officials reported of establishing different draft agreements to be signed with the government and different organs of Uzbekistan at the objective to foster trade and transit deals between Kabul and Tashkent.
Voicing hope over railway line between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, he said that Afghanistan work over expanding transport and transit relation between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. He highlighted that daily 30-40 trucks coming from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan soil, but due to lack of road pass and visa for drivers Afghan truck cannot go to Uzbekistan.“The ministry is working to address visa and road pass issue with Uzbekistan as soon as possible,” Batash stated. Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said that Uzbekistan pharmaceutically progressed well, thus we will struggle to import medicine from this country as well in order to create a health competition as well as foster quality of medicine in the country. He stated that the MoPH also will struggle to establish standard laboratories for medicine checking in the country Ministries of Public Work and Energy and Water also informed of different drafts to attract Uzbekistan cooperation in fields of railway, energy and water.
Peaceful and active economic cooperation between Afghanistan and neighboring countries are in interest of all. With improving trade and transit facilities and connecting South Asia to Central Asia will create a lot of economic opportunities to all neighboring countries. For example, it can provide foreign exchange to import commodities manufactured more cheaply than a distant part of the world; it can also create a lot of job opportunities which can largely decrease the number of economic migrations and brain drain from these countries, especially, from Afghanistan. Finally, all neighboring countries need to realize that a peaceful and land-link Afghanistan is far better than an insecure and landlocked Afghanistan.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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