Uzbekistan has established a transit hub at its border with Afghanistan in order to promote trade and transit ties between the two countries, President Ashraf Ghani’s advisor on Central Asian Affairs Shakir Kargar said Saturday.
According to Kargar, the development project established in Uzbekistan’s Termez city includes a railway line and station, a trade center for commercial goods and roads for transporting of goods.
Kargar also said Uzbekistan is interested in investing $500 million in the construction of a 657km railway line from Mazar-e-Sharif to Herat which will connect Uzbekistan to Iran through Afghanistan.
According to Kargar, Uzbekistan’s Andi Jan port is near the new transit hub and that Afghan traders can use this port.
“Now most of our transit problems in Uzbekistan have been solved. Now Afghanistan’s goods can be transited to Russia and China through Uzbekistan’s Andi Jan port,” said Kargar.
Kargar also said the establishment of such a transit hub in Uzbekistan holds long term benefits and will provide the opportunity for Afghanistan to expand its trade relations with Russia and China.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) meanwhile said Afghanistan-Uzbekistan trade and transit ties are improving – which is in favor of the two nations.
“With Uzbekistan’s investments in Mazar-e-Sharif-Herat railway, Uzbekistan’s goods will be transported easily to Iran, even from Iran to the Gulf countries,” Yahya Akhlaqi, the head of the transit department at the ministry said.
ACCI statistics show that the trade value between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan last year was $600 million of which $200 million was Afghanistan’s exports to Uzbekistan.
Afghan officials in Uzbekistan say that Uzbek investors are ready to invest in different sectors in the northern and western parts of the country.
Pakistan has been frequently accused by the Afghan government of creating deliberate obstacles to undermine Afghanistan’s trade and transit sectors because of Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan’s Karachi port.
However, with the expansion of Afghanistan’s relations with the central Asian countries, it appears that Afghanistan’s dependency on Pakistani is decreasing and the country is now able to conduct economic relations with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.