Afghan, Australian and Indian officials, practitioners and experts held discussions over expanding Afghanistan’s trade relations with the region and beyond on the sidelines of the 2nd Passage2Prosperity annual India-Afghanistan International Trade and Investment Show in India’s Mumbai city.
Addressing an event in Mumbai on Friday, Ajmal Ahmadi, President Ghani’s advisor on economic affairs, said Afghanistan can export goods to Australia via Indian and Indonesian routes through Chabahar port.
The officials discussed opening of sea routes and air corridors between the three countries for expanding trade and transit relations.
Ahmadi said the National Unity Government is working on establishing transit corridors through India, Indonesia, Turkey and China. He said India can play a crucial role on shipping goods to Australia. “This question is important now but it also becomes increasingly important once we begin to rump up our mineral sector. So here obviously Chabahar port is a key issue where we are looking to diversify our export options,” said Ahmadi.
“India offers Afghanistan a unique opportunity to be the strategic springboard for Afghan goods and services to reach deeper into the international market.” said Wahidullah Waissi, Afghanistan’s Ambassador in Australia, who was moderating a panel on Afghanistan, India, Australia and Far-East business opportunities and trade relations.
“One way through which Afghanistan can plug itself into the Indo-Pacific is via the operationalization of the Afghanistan-India-Australia cooperation. Moreover, its institutionalisation would support Afghanistan’s economic strategy.” Ambassador Waissi added.
Meanwhile, Australian analysts said establishing transit routes between Afghanistan and Australia will benefit economies of the two countries. The analysts said there are good markets for Afghanistan’s saffron, carpet and dried and fresh fruits in Australia.
William Maley, a professor and an Afghan studies expert from the Australian National University, said they are looking forward to establish an effective framework to ease trade and transit between Afghanistan, India and Australia. “There is real potential for producers in Afghanistan to partner with producers in India to see where they can jointly cooperate and sale overseas particularly in Australia,” Nishank Motwani, an Indian regional studies expert in Australian said.
According to government statistics, the trade volume between Afghanistan and Australia is around $10 million a year and part of Afghan exports to Australia includes carpets, dry fruits as well as precious and semi-precious stones.