Afghan goals similar to BRI's: industry and commerce minister

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/28 23:16:23

Afghan Minister of Industry and Commerce Ajmal Ahmady. Photo: Wang Wenwen/GT

The goal of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Afghanistan is in line with the objectives of the Afghan government, which are to build more infrastructure and integrate with the region, said Afghan Minister of Industry and Commerce Ajmal Ahmady in Beijing. 

"One of President Ashraf Ghani's key objectives has been to transform Afghanistan's place as a landlocked country from a constraint to an opportunity," Ahmady told the Global Times on Saturday. 

"As China continues its BRI and Afghanistan its regional connectivity initiatives, we look for opportunities where they overlap," Ahmady said.

Ahmady was in Beijing for the Second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation from Thursday to Saturday. 

He noted that the BRI helps address the large infrastructure deficit in many developing countries, including Afghanistan. 

Creating a program to invest in infrastructure, especially in countries which have not received much infrastructure investment, allows them to take advantage of their natural resources and continue to grow, Ahmady said.

He said that for that reason, the BRI has "some very important economic benefits not only for the countries involved, but also for the global economy." Ahmady noted that the security situation in Afghanistan and the fact that Afghanistan is surrounded by more powerful countries in the region pose a challenge to the implementation of the BRI.

As countries begin to get connected, the incentives change from seeking their own benefits to making sure Afghanistan is a stable place because there is infrastructure for energy or to transit through Afghanistan, Ahmady said. 

"We are hopeful that as regional infrastructure programs continue, they will act as catalysts for stability and development in Afghanistan."

Aside from attending the forum, Ahmady met Afghan businessmen in China. Salman Raha was one of them. 

Raha's company is based in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang Province. He set his mind on the favorable business environment of the eastern Chinese city which is known for its international trade and wholesale market.

Raha's company exports Chinese goods, such as clothes and daily necessities, back to his country. 

A cargo train takes all the goods from Yiwu to Afghanistan's Hairatan Port via Uzbekistan on a weekly basis.

Raha said that they addressed the problems they have encountered with the minister and hope these problems can be solved with the help of the Afghan government.

In late 2018, Afghanistan began to export pine nuts directly to China by air. Raha told the Global Times that he wants to expand his business by exporting other Afghan nuts, such as almonds, and Afghan fruits to China, but the Chinese government has yet to issue the necessary certificates for these products. 

"I hope the Afghan government can talk with the Chinese side so we can have more business opportunities," Raha said.
Newspaper headline: Afghan goals aligned to BRI


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