The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Lapis Lazuli Corridor; easy & cheap route for exporting Afghan products to Europe

Lapis Lazuli Corridor, considered as easy and cheap transit route for exporting Afghan products to Europe, was finally opened by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Thursday.
Opening the transit route in Herat, the country’s President said: “Today, a very big obstacle against our goal changing Afghanistan to an exporting and connecting country was addressed.”
“Afghanistan was in isolation 17 years ago, but today Afghanistan is reaching out and wants relations and cooperation,” President Ghani said, adding that Afghans are people of connectivity not separation.
Afghan economic experts consider opening the transit route as big step towards economic development, asking Afghanistan government for providing further facilitations to Afghan traders export home-products to foreign countries.
UstadSaifuddinSaihoon, an Afghan economic expert, in an interview with The Kabul Times correspondent said: “Opening Lapis Lazuli Corridor is a proper opportunity for Afghan traders to expand their trade and easily and cheaply transit Afghan products and goods to world market in particular Europe through the corridor.” “Lapis Lazuli Corridor is considered as the best transit route comparing to all other corridors as goods are cheaply, easily and safely transited through the corridor to regional countries,” Saihoon said, adding a number of traders have shown readiness to transit their goods and products through the route to world markets.
He believes Afghanistan is a landlocked country, so it is necessary that further efforts should be made for creating transit corridors through which Afghan goods and products can be easily transited to world markets, adding opening Lapis Lazuli Corridor is considered as a good transit route for transiting Afghan products to world markets. Meanwhile, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) says Afghan traders are seriously interested in expansion of their trade by exporting their goods to world markets through Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
“Comparing to other ground and air corridors, Lapis Lazuli Corridor has further facilitations and is cheap for trade with European and Central Asian countries,” head of ACCI AtiqullahNasrat said, adding we have experienced in transiting goods by trucks; therefore, we want to make use of such an experience as it is cheap.
After years of wait, nine trucks carrying Afghan goods left Thursday for Turkey through the historic route of Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai, deputy minister of finance and administrative for commerce and industries, says opening transit routes is aimed to increase and expand trade between Afghanistan and other regional and world countries. He added that currently exports balance of Afghanistan has reached to nearly $800 million. Beginning in Afghanistan’s northern Faryab province andTurqundi in Herat, Lapis Lazuli Corridor continues to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan and after crossing the Caspian Sea, links to the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti.After connecting with Kars in eastern Turkey, it proceeds to Istanbul and ends in Europe. The corridor connects with Turkey’s Middle Corridor Project (East-West Trans-Caspian Trade and Transport Corridor) and complements other regional transport corridors, such as the Five Nations Railway Corridor.
Shukria Kohistani

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.