Modi, Ghani vow greater trade and business linkages

Afghan trucks to be allowed through Attari ICP, a move Ghani said would boost bilateral trade

India and Afghanistan today vowed to establish greater trade and business linkages between both countries by taking advantage of the direct surface link between both countries thereby using Afghanistan into a transit hub of Asia.

During a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, both sides reaffirmed India’s growing role in building a “stable, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan”.

Modi said in establishing direct trade linkages with Afghanistan, India will allow trucks from that country to bring their goods through the integrated check post (ICP) in Attari, Amritsar in an effort to rebuild old trading routes of Asia.

“We are ready to welcome Afghan trucks at the ICP Attari. We are also prepared to join the successor agreement to Afghan Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement. This will re-establish one of the oldest trading routes of South Asia,” Modi said after the meeting with Afghanistan President here today.

Presently, trade between India and Afghanistan faces stiff obstacles due to the Afghan Pakistan Transit and Trade Agreement that imposes certain restrictions on Afghan vehicles and are not allowed to pick up or deliver goods at the Indian border points.

Modi said that a bilateral Motor Vehicles Agreement will soon be signed with Afghanistan that will allow Afghan trucks access Indian land border posts. He also said India is working towards developing the Chahbahar port project in Iran which will help Afghanistan to develop itself into a crucial trading hub.

“We will expand our development partnership, which includes infrastructure, agriculture, connectivity, human resource development, community projects and humanitarian assistance. We will explore new trade and investment opportunities,” Modi said.

He also highlighted the support extended by India for the development of Afghan security forces. India has delivered three ‘Cheetal’ helicopters to India.

Ghani said that the Indian government’s decision to allow Afghan trucks in Indian check-posts will help boost bilateral trade.

“India and Afghanistan are bound by million ties. We welcome your emphasis in bilateral transport agreement. Getting access to Attari ICP will help Afghan goods reach Indian markets more easily now,” Ghani, who is on a two-day visit here, said.

On terrorism, Ghani said, “Peace is our significant goal because the shadow of terror haunts our children, our women, our youth. We must have a unified approach and must be united both in the region and globally to contain terror.”

He also lauded India’s contribution of $2.2 billion in building human resources in Afghanistan. He said increased investments from India are important for the development of Afghan economy.

“Chahbahar project will be crucial for us. We look forward to an Asia that is economically integrated and where there is lasting peace between states,” he said.

Ghani invited Modi to visit Kabul and Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan.

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