Thursday, 22 March 2018
Important agreements were signed between Afghanistan and several foreign countries in the 1396 solar year
Despite the ongoing turbulence in the security sector, Afghanistan has made major strides in the economic cooperation sphere during the solar year 1396. In this year, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Turkmenistan signed the Lapis Lazuli agreement with Afghanistan - sealing an important international trade and transport corridor deal that will connect Afghanistan directly to European countries. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will begin in the Afghan provinces of Faryab and Herat and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. The Lapis Lazuli Agreement was inked on the sidelines of the RECCA VII Summit in Kabul. In 1396, Afghanistan hosted also the 3rd Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul which was attended by representatives from 40 countries. SOM delegates discussed mutual commitments made by the international community and Afghanistan at Brussels Summit on Afghanistan in October 2016. At the Brussels Summit, the Government of Afghanistan pledged to the international community to carry out several reforms including the registration of assets by government officials, the undertaking of systematic reforms in the election law, the finalization of the procurement law, fighting corruption, reforms within legal and judicial institutions and mainly ensuring the security of foreign investments and investors. The conference in Brussels brought together 75 countries and 26 international organizations and agencies. At the summit, the international community endorsed the reforms agenda presented by the Afghan government. They undertook to ensure continued international political and financial support for Afghanistan over the next four years. The total sum committed by the international community was USD 15.2 billion. In the solar year 1396, after many years of waiting, finally started the work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline mega-project (TAPI) following a ground-breaking ceremony in the province of Herat in western Afghanistan. “TAPI project has been a foundation for a major economic corridor in the region and many countries have voiced support for this project,” said an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. “The ministry of finance is responsible to look after 14 agreements we have with the neighboring countries, we have achieved major gains with the help of these projects, this has left positive impacts on Afghanistan’s economic and trade relations with other nations,” said a spokesman of the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan. But, the import and export relations between Afghanistan and its neighboring countries faced some ups and downs during 1396. And the commercial and economic relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan deteriorated. “We have achieved some gains this year, but we also had problems in terms of security including a rise in kidnapping of the businessmen and other problems,” said the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI). During the 1396 solar year, Afghan officials held economic talks with Iran and finalized agreements on the development of Chabahar Port. Chabahar is the closest and easiest access point in Iran to the Indian Ocean and Iran intends to turn it into a transit hub for immediate access to markets in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia. In 1396, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed a number of bilateral agreements with his Turkmenistan counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during a one-day official visit to Ashgabad. The parties also signed the Regulation on Organization of Railroad Transport between Imamnazar and Akina Border posts. In addition, an agreement on cooperation between the Ministry of Energy of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Energy and Water Management of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to supply Turkmen energy to Badghis and Jawzjan provinces was also signed. During talks, the two presidents focused on regional security and bilateral cooperation. Particular attention was paid to the implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline Project.