Economy, Business And Markets

Afghan Commerce Chamber Calls for Boosting Bilateral Trade

Afghan Commerce Chamber Calls  for Boosting Bilateral TradeAfghan Commerce Chamber Calls  for Boosting Bilateral Trade

There is abundant potential for Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade, according to the head of International Affairs Office at Afghan Chamber of Commerce.

“Bilateral trade can increase from the current $2.5 billion to $25 billion per annum over the next decade,” IRNA quoted Azarakhsh Hafezi as saying.

He believes power production and mining are potential areas that can help significantly boost two-way exchanges.

On Wednesday, the two countries inaugurated parts of a major railroad project, connecting Khwaf in Iran’s Khorasan Razavi Province—home to dozens of mineral deposits and production plants—to the mineral-rich province of Herat in Afghanistan.

The 191-km line consists of four sections, two in Iran, spanning from Khwaf to the border town of Shamtigh, and the rest in Afghanistan. While Iranian parts of the route are almost complete, in a ceremony on Wednesday the Islamic Republic started laying tracks on the 62-km third section between Shamtigh and Ghurian, which is expected to be completed within a few days.

This will be Afghanistan’s first railroad link to Iran, and the country’s only link to the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman.

Upon completion, the Khwaf-Herat route will be used for transportation of both passengers and cargo. However, exploiting the cargo capacity is a priority for both governments. The remaining phases of the railroad are estimated to become operational within nine months, with the capacity of moving 27 million tons of cargo a year.

“There are massive mineral deposits in all 34 Afghan provinces,” Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Iran Nasir Ahmad Nour said during the ceremony. “The new railroad gives us the opportunity to export our minerals.”

Afghanistan is home to over 1,400 mineral sites containing copper, gold, iron ore, lead, sulfur, zinc and high-quality gemstones such as emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet and ruby. It holds $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, according to the United States Geological Survey.

To showcase their products and services, 77 Iranian companies active in agriculture, food, construction, medicine, electronics and textile industries participated in the four-day Iran-Afghanistan Trade Exhibition in Kabul, which ended on Friday.

The event was organized with the aim of promoting Iranian brands in Afghanistan and increasing the role of free trade zones in bilateral trade.

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s latest statistics on Iran-Afghanistan trade pertains to the first four months of the current Iranian year (March 20-July 21), during which Iran exported 1.5 million tons of non-oil commodities worth $765.4 million to Afghanistan, registering a 5% decline in value; and imported 9,300 tons worth $8.7 million, indicating a 100% rise compared to last year’s corresponding period.

Petrochemicals, urea, carpets, pistachios, tomato paste, dates, fruit and chocolate were the main exports. The imports mainly included sesame, coke, lentil and vegetables.