Afghanistan resumes pine nut exports to China via air corridor
Published: Nov 01, 2021 07:23 PM
Photo taken on Oct. 31, 2021 shows a cargo plane during a ceremony of resuming the export of pine nuts to China, at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan on Sunday resumed export of pine nuts to China, a Taliban spokesman confirmed.Photo:Xinhua

Photo taken on Oct. 31, 2021 shows a cargo plane during a ceremony of resuming the export of pine nuts to China, at Kabul International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo:Xinhua

The first flight carrying 45 tons of Afghan pine nuts this year has arrived at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai from Kabul, marking the first time Afghanistan has exported goods to China since the Afghan Taliban took power in the country. 

As global air transport is still limited, China and Afghanistan had to overcome numerous difficulties and yet they managed to arrange the flights, which solved the problem of Afghan farmers and solidified bilateral trade ties, Wang Yu, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, wrote on his Twitter account on Monday. 

In the coming months, tens of thousands of tons of pine nuts will be exported to China, Wang said.

A Taliban spokesman also announced the export shipment. "A cargo plane carrying pine nuts took off from Kabul International Airport to China," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter.

"Many Chinese firms have ordered pine nuts, with each firm placing an order of 10 or 15 tons, and these orders are awaiting shipment," Yu Minghui, director of the China Arab Economic and Trade Promotion Committee, told the Global Times on Monday.

It may take more than half a month before all these orders can arrive in China, Yu said. "Pine nuts from Afghanistan were once exported to Europe, but now China is the main destination and they are also exported to South Korea."

The income, reaching hundreds of millions of US dollars, will greatly benefit many Afghan farmers, among others, the Chinese ambassador said, calling the resumption of exports a "great job of cooperation of our two countries and peoples. Income for Afghan farmers; and nice taste for Chinese consumers. It's a win-win."

The "pine nut air corridor" is an important bond of friendship between the two countries, said Wang.

Afghanistan formally launched pine nut exports in 2019 via an air corridor to a number of countries, including China, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency. Pine nut trees grow in eight eastern provinces of Afghanistan, including Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Kapisa, Kunar, Nangarhar, Nuristan and Laghman, Xinhua reported, citing the country's pine nut union.

According to the union, there are 40 registered small and medium-sized pine nut trading companies in the mountainous country, with more than 50,000 local farmers, mostly women, involved in growing and harvesting the profitable seeds from nearby forests and hilltops. 

During a meeting with the acting Foreign Minister of the Afghan Taliban's Interim Government Amir Khan Muttaqi in Qatar on October 26, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that once the security situation in Afghanistan is stabilized, China will discuss with Afghanistan cooperation in the field of economic reconstruction. 

China will support the country to boost its connectivity with the region and its capability to seek independent development by giving full play to its geographical advantage as "the heart of Asia," Wang said, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.