Indian, New Delhi: Yesterday, The chief executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah urged Indian businesses to invest in the conflict-torn nation where China and Pakistan have also been jostling for a foothold. India is one of the leading donor nations to Afghanistan and the largest in the South Asia region, but trade between India and Afghanistan stood at just $683 million in 2013-14.
Chief said at a meeting with top industry bodies in the Indian capital, “It is imperative to harness this potential. The mutual goodwill that exists between our peoples and the leaders must translate into a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said. He said, “Our geographical position as a land bridge offers immense opportunities to investors in terms of trade, transit and connectivity”. He expressed the hope that the proposed Afghanistan-Iran-India transit agreement centred around the strategic Iranian port of Chabahar would “happen in near future”.
Last May, India signed a multi-million-dollar memorandum of understanding with Iran to develop the port on its south-eastern coast, but the deal has been stuck since. Chief also said, “The development of Chabahar port in Iran is key to India-Afghanistan trade. It can act as a gateway towards opening new energy and trade routes not only in Afghanistan but in Central Asia as well”.
Iran has been seeking international investment to help complete the port, which Kabul says will provide a gateway for Indian companies seeking to do business in Afghanistan and Central Asia, as well as in Iran. The port will help India compete with China, which is investing heavily in the Pakistani port of Gwadar, in the race to boost business interests in the region.