The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Railways play key role in expanding regional trade

Most countries of the world have now preferred to invest on railway infrastructure projects as railway infrastructure projects as railways play a key role in expanding both regional and international trade. Besides, railways link cities together, open up economic opportunities for export ports and lower the cost of transport of goods and enable people to access opportunities for work and trade. With the Islamic Emirate takeover and improvement of the overall security situation across Afghanistan, the time has to pay further attention to railway infrastructure projects in the country. It is time to start new railway infrastructure projects and complete the missing regional railway links in collaboration with neighboring countries to enable Afghanistan to become a transport and transit hub in the region. Just this week, Afghanistan kicked off exports to Europe by sending its first consignment of minerals to Turkiye via Iran. The country exported 1,100 metric tons of talc to Mersin, a Mediterranean port city in southern Turkiye. Afghanistan sent the consignment using a railway, which connects the Rouzanak region in the western province of Herat to the city of Khaf in northeast Iran. The railway is 220km in length and was inaugurated in July 2023. This is good news that Afghanistan has started exports to Europe. With starting work on more railway infrastructure projects, Afghanistan can double its exports to regional and world countries. Afghanistan’s transport system is comprised of roads, railways, airports, and inland waterways, although roads by far account for most of the country’s infrastructure inventory and carry the clear majority of the passenger and freight traffic. Currently, the total length of railways is less than 500 km, which includes the cross-border extensions from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and the newly constructed Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif railway line (75 km) and the Khaf-Herat railway line. Given its mineral extraction potential and its strategic location, Afghanistan’s railway subsector is underdeveloped and requires urgent attention. Extension of the railways will foster cross-border and regional trade, increase rail usage and the viability of the initial railway investment, and introduce competition in rail operations. Both regional and intraregional trade is very important for Afghanistan as the country provides an important geographic link between Central Asian and South Asian countries, especially with the potential to provide transit access to the ports of India, Iran, and Pakistan. Fostering regional connectivity will help countries improve productivity in accordance with natural comparative advantage, benefit from complementarities, and thus increase output, trade, and consumer welfare. Additionally, Afghanistan has vast potential for developing mineral extraction industries, which may be the engine of self-sustaining economic growth in the future. By starting work on new railway infrastructure projects and completing the missing railway projects, Afghanistan as the land bridge of the region, connecting Central Asia to South Asia, can provide land routes for Chinese goods to Europe, serve as the hub for the Silk Road’s trade and transit route and provide access to warm ports for Central Asian nations via Chabahar. Achieving this vision will result in stronger regional economic integration, economic growth, and employment, and alleviate poverty. Mashal

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.