The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Afghanistan towards sustainable economic growth as relations with Central Asia increasing

A number of countries in Central Asia have increased trade and economic relations with Afghanistan, which is now building the foundation for sustained economic growth in the region. In February, Afghanistan’s foreign minister led a delegation to Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, for talks that centered on completing the 1,600- kilometer Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline. Though Afghanistan will take only five percent of the annual 33 billion cubic meters flow, completion of the project will be a great win for Afghanistan. The two sides also discussed the Turkmenistan-Af ghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) high-voltage power transmission line and the construction of railways from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan. In January, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan agreed on the sale of 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours of energy to Kabul for 2024, and the completion of a power transmission line. Tajikistan plans to increase electricity sales to Afghanistan by 17% despite domestic rationing of power. The countries have an electricity supply agreement that runs to 2028. The agreements with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan will supplement electricity imports from Uzbekistan, which were interrupted in January 2022 due to a technical fault. The CASA-1000 International Energy Project aims to provide 1,300 megawatts of hydropower-produced surplus electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the summer months through new energy infrastructure running 1,300 km. The $1.2 billion project was to be completed by 2024. And Tashkent recently secured Qatar’s support for the 573-kilometer Trans-Afghan Railway to connect Uzbekistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Though the project will mostly support Pakistan–Central Asian trade, Afghanistan will also benefit. Iran, which has increased trade with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, is formalizing relations with the Islamic Emirate. Trade relations between Afghanistan and Iran have considerably increased in recent months. Tehran has recently welcomed Kabul’s USD 35 million investment in the Chabahar port. Afghanistan’s neighbors all support increased economic ties with Afghanistan. Kabul’s key asset is its location. Afghanistan, the “heart of Asia,” may become a security provider of sorts for the region as the security situation has now improved considerably across the country. In March, Foreign Minister Bakhtiyor Saidov of Uzbekistan led a delegation arrived to Kabul to meet the Islamic Emirate’s leaders. According to the IEA, the Uzbek side pledged support for Qush Tepa and agreed to send a technical team to support the project, and agreed to accept the Islamic Emirate’s ambassador. This comes as trade activities have resumed at the PakAfghan border in Chaman after a five-month closure. The government of Pakistan has successfully facilitated the reopening of the border, which had been shut since November 2023. The closure had led to significant economic hardships for the local community, with many losing their livelihoods and poverty levels rising. The point sees now the passage of freight vehicles, marking the restoration of trade between the two countries. The development was expected to bring relief to the affected population by reinstating employment opportunities and reducing poverty levels on both sides of the points. Increasing economic and trade relations between Afghanistan and countries in the region is considered as a positive step towards economic development in the region. Ahmad Tamim

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.