The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Increasing trade, economic relations between Afghanistan, Iran

With the Islamic Emirate (IEA) takeover, the doors to strengthening trade and economic investment in Afghanistan have been opened. The Islamic Emirate has followed this by adopting an economyoriented foreign policy for all countries. The Islamic Emirate pays special economic attention to all countries including Iran in the region. Several major reasons can be given for this special attention to the regional countries, particularly Iran. The first reason is that economically, Iran is a complete economic package for Afghanistan, in the sense that Iran can meet all of Afghanistan’s consumer needs in the fields of consumption, including some food items, clothing, sanitary, medical, household appliances, and hardware. The second reason is that Iran can help Afghanistan in the fields of technical and engineering, road construction (asphalt and railway lines), and electrical infrastructure. The third reason, which is of great concern to the Afghan government is, Iran’s transit position for Afghanistan. In this context, it can be said that Afghanistan has some trade problems with Pakistan. Afghanistan is trying to find a transit alternative instead of Pakistan, or at least to diversify the transit routes for itself, and Iran is the only country that can help Afghanistan in this field. There was previously a tripartite agreement signed between Iran, Afghanistan, and India in 2016 regarding the use of Iran’s Chabahar port by Afghanistan and India. However, the Islamic Emirate is following this issue with more seriousness and wants to increase Iran’s share in the transit of goods and remove Afghanistan from transit bottlenecks. The fourth reason is that Afghanistan has taken up the task of restarting the KhawafHerat railway line with more seriousness and speed, and after the reconstruction of the destroyed parts, it will be used practically in this solar year. Another reason that shows increasing trade and economic relations between Afghanistan and Iran is the numerous trips of the officials of the Islamic Emirate to Iran. In this context, in the past two years, several high-ranking officials of Afghanistan’s economic sectors, including last year the Minister of Industry and Commerce, and this year a delegation of 30 people led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar, Deputy Prime Minister for Eco nomic Affairs, have visited Iran. The recent visit of the Afghan 30-person delegation led by Mullah Berader to Iran is key as the delegation of the Islamic Emirate has visited the economic and industrial sectors of Iran while meeting with high-ranking officials of Iran, including the vice president, the minister of foreign affairs, and other Iranian officials. During this visit, dozens of memorandums of understanding have been signed with Iran in various economic fields, the most important of which are: Understanding the increase of Afghan imports and exports through Chabahar port, signing the memorandum of understanding of the meeting of the Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation, the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee on International Road Transport Cooperation, the signing of the memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran and the Afghan side, the signing of the cooperation document between Isfahan iron smelter and the Afghan side, the document of cooperation between free zones. Also, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, the most important achievements of this trip are as follows: Important issues in the visit of the delegation of the Islamic Emirate to the Islamic Republic of Iran, under the supervision of Mullah Beradar Akhund, Deputy Minister of Economy: Creating facilities for export and import, the parties’ emphasis on connecting Iran to China through Wakhan, and appointing special teams for the speed of practical work and pursuing this issue, connecting Iran to Uzbekistan, through Afghanistan. Also, the construction of a railway line along this route as well as along the Wakhan Corridor, the agreement and emphasis of the parties on the construction of the railway route to Kandahar, the fight against drug production and trafficking, and joint efforts to provide alternative livelihoods and cultivation to Afghan farmers. Duration of customs activities with Iran up to 24 hours, exemption of monetary soil from both sides, consensus on trade balance with Iran and taking practical steps in this direction, imposition of preferential tariffs on some Afghan exports, creation of joint committees to solve the problems of Afghan immigrants and also a series of other topics. On the other hand, Iran also pays special economic attention to Afghanistan. The most important goals that Iran has from its special economic attention to Afghanistan include the following: Iran’s first economic goal of developing economic relations with Afghanistan is to increase its trade with Afghanistan to 10 billion dollars. In this context, the advisor of the Iranian President’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Affairs has said that Iran’s economic strategy regarding Afghanistan is to increase bilateral trade to ten billion dollars in a period of 3 to 5 years and to take many measures in this field in the short term. Among the important things that Iran has undertaken to reach the ten billion dollar trade horizon with Afghanistan are things like providing transit facilities, activating railway lines, especially the Khawaf-Herat railway line, Imposing preferential tariffs on some commercial items, activating more customs ports on the border with Afghanistan, creating more facilities in customs, including 24-hour processing of customs affairs, providing free trade zones to Afghanistan and signing memorandums of understanding to strengthen trade relations between the two countries, as the most recent of which was done during Mullah Berader’s visit to Iran. Iran’s second goal is access to Central Asian countries and China through Afghanistan. Although Iran has access to Central Asia and China through Turkmenistan, the geographical location of Afghanistan is such that this country can directly access Uzbekistan and Tajikistan through Afghanistan. Also, Iran will be connected to China through Afghanistan if the Wakhan Corridor is developed by traveling a very short distance compared to the Central Asian route, and the prospect of developing the Khawaf-Herat railway line is to achieve this goal. It is said that a tripartite consortium of Iran, China, and Afghanistan will soon start working in the field of transit issues. After discussing the relevant issues, the respective countries will be able to witness the realization of this corridor within the next year with the start of the transit process. With the improvement of the overall security situation across Afghanistan and recent progress in Afghanistan, a range of opportunities have been provided for regional countries to invest and boost trade and economic relations with Afghanistan. S. Raqib

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.