Economic

Afghan traders facing visa problems to transfer goods via Lapis Lazuli Route

A number of Afghan traders who are transferring goods through Lapis Lazuli Corridor are facing with a range of problems including lack of visa and road-pass.
Afghanistan Traders Board says Afghanistan government should pay serious attention to problems of Afghan traders and truck drivers carrying goods through the corridor.
“Afghan traders are facing with a series of problems including visa,” Head of the board Rahmuddin Haji Agha said, adding that Afghan traders and their truck drivers carrying the goods via Lapis Lazuli Corridor have problems in getting visa and road-pass.
He said that currently a number of trucks have been loaded and were ready to transfer goods through the corridor, adding they would leave when their problems were addressed.
After inauguration of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor, the first shipment which was sent through the route included more than 175 tons of cotton, dried fruit and sesame. Five months ago, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani opened the route.
The Lapis Lazuli corridor connects Afghanistan through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia to the Black Sea and ultimately through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. The Lapis Lazuli corridor is a historic corridor. Almost 2,000 years ago, lapis lazuli stone was exported from Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan through this route to Europe.
According to Afghan traders, dried fruits, cotton, sesame and other Afghani products are exported to Europe through the Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
Afghanistan ministry of commerce and industries by accepting a series of problems said using the route is a new experience for Afghan traders.
“Problem of visa of Afghan traders has been addressed,” Samir Rasa, a spokesperson to the ministry of commerce and industries said, adding efforts are underway to address the rest of problems facing Afghan traders who are transferring Afghani goods to Europe via Lapis Lazuli Corridor.
“Lapis Lazuli Corridor was the first and new experience – problems have been identified. In fact, there was a problem of visa, which has been addressed by a joint team with the ministry of foreign affairs. We did not have embassy in Georgia, and now Afghan traders can get the respective country’s visa from Uzbekistan,” Rasa said, hoping that such problems will be fully addressed in coming stages of shipment to Europe.
Meanwhile, an Afghan economic experet Shir Ali Tazari told The Kabul Times that visa problem should be taken as a serious issue, saying that all dimensions in business should be considered as significant; therefore, the government should address all problems.
The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was signed in October 2017 between Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia. 
The route begins in Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan.
From there it will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.
Shukria Kohistani

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