Uzbekistan may get access to Iranian ports
Uzbekistan and Afghanistan are keen to further boost regional cooperation.
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani intends to visit Uzbekistan in the near future to sign a number of memorandums on cooperation.
Cooperation in the field of railway communications will be one of the main topics for discussion, Uzbek media outlets reported.
The two sides intend to discuss the issues of economic cooperation and the possible participation of Uzbekistan in several joint projects, including in the field of transportation.
The talks will focus on the launch of a railway line from Mazar-i-Sharif to Balkh province, through the four provinces of Afghanistan, to Herat. Uzbekistan may become a part of this line.
The deputy head of Afghanistan’s railway administration, Abdul Bari Seddiqi, noted that the implementation of the project will allow Uzbekistan to gain direct access to Iranian ports.
The project will increase trade between Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and China. Another line will be built from Mazar-i-Sharif to Kunduz.
Earlier, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said that the exact date of the visit hasn’t been determined yet. The minister added that Afghanistan should not remain isolated from the region, and should become a part of the process of establishing peace, stability and prosperity.
Afghanistan is a small player in terms of international trade. Its total international trade in 2016-2017 financial year stood at just over $7 billion, out of which some $ 6.5 billion ($ 6534 million) are Afghanistan’s imports while exports are a mere $596 million. During this period, only three countries namely Iran, Pakistan, and China contributed around half of Afghanistan’s total imports, each exporting goods worth more than $1 billion to the country.
Adding the exports of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan ($621 million and $399 million respectively) to Afghanistan, Kabul imports more than 60 percent of its total imported goods from just five neighboring countries.