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Afghanistan Seeks Indian Investments in Mining, Agriculture Sector

Thursday 22 December 2011

NEW DELHI (The Times of India) – As it strives to stand on its own feet, Afghanistan has invited Indian investments in sectors like mining, agriculture and transport and to provide it the “backbone” after transition in 2014.

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Abdul Ghani Ghuriani

The Afghan government is trying to make an “enabling” environment to attract foreign investments, as the country has to stand on its own after the transition, said Afghanistan Deputy Minister of Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Abdul Ghani Ghuriani (عبدالغنی غوریانی).

The year 2014 is the timeline set for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. Speaking at an interactive session on agriculture here last night, he said: “… Practically saying, we might lose all of these opportunities, grants from international community [after 2014]. To make it and to ready ourselves for this transition, only way is that we prioritise key areas.” He said the country is considering its potential areas and resources to get its economy running smoothly even after the international source of funding get reduced.

Ghuriani, who is leading a high-level Afghan delegation to India, said the key areas for privatisation and investments include agriculture, mines and transport. He said: “Perception of the world is Afghanistan will collapse after 2014. So investments would make us stand on our own. Investment will give backbone after the transition.”

During the six-day visit, the delegation would discuss with Indian government the prospects of cooperation in areas of agriculture, livestock and mining. He said besides agriculture on which 85-90% of the Afghan population relies on, the iron-rich nation has lot of potential for investment in mines even for joint ventures. Citing the recent example of SAIL-led consortium that bagged rights to develop three iron ore mines at Hajigak (حاجیگک), Afghanistan Embassy First Secretary (Economic) Ayuob Omarzada (ایوب عمرزاده) said the country attracted US $10 billion Indian investments in last 5-6 years. “There is a scope of around three billion metric tonnes of iron in Afghanistan,” Omarzada said adding there is an opportunity to construct railways.

On opening of trade routes to India, the minister said the country is trying to “speed up” the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement which has not been enforced. He said transit to Central Asia and India through Pakistan has not been undertaken. He said the 40-year long Afghan war destroyed the country’s assets but commodities like saffron, apples, wool and dry fruits possess the export potential particularly for India.

The bilateral trade between India and Afghanistan stood at $557 million during 2010-11.

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