India, CIS nations seek to boost existing transit, trade pacts

By: | Published: August 9, 2017 2:04 AM

India, along with 17 countries under the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, is seeking to make transit and trade agreements among them more inclusive and comprehensive by expanding them both northwards and southwards, to connect South Asia with Central Asia.

 India, CIS, tradeRepresentatives of 17 participating countries and supporting international organisations attended the meet. (Reuters)

India, along with 17 countries under the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, is seeking to make transit and trade agreements among them more inclusive and comprehensive by expanding them both northwards and southwards, to connect South Asia with Central Asia.

At a meeting held in New Delhi, the participants, besides viewing Afghanistan as a natural bridge in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration, also reviewed steps taken for development of transit and transport through Chabahar Port involving India, Afghanistan and Iran, TAPI gas pipeline, CASA-1000, TAT railway line and Lapis Lazuli corridor.

At the eighth meeting of the Regional Technical Group on Trade, Commerce and Investment CBM of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, hosted by India as the lead country, all agreed on the value of such connectivity and economic integration projects to overall growth, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. The meeting was co-chaired by the acting director-general, economic cooperation department, ministry of foreign affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Hassan Soroosh, and Deepak Mittal, joint secretary, ministry of external affairs (MEA).

According to the MEA, “The participating countries shared views on various measures and steps to promote transit and trade and realising reliable and robust connectivity, with Afghanistan as the hub. They also called for strengthening growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and involvement of women in economic development, including through women entrepreneurship; and simplifying customs procedures.”

Representatives of 17 participating countries and supporting international organisations, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the UAE, Australia, Egypt, Germany, the UK, the US, the EU and the UN, attended the meet.

Initiatives taken by India at a bilateral level include the recent establishment of the air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan, which provided fast and assured access to farmers of Afghanistan to the large markets in South Asia and beyond.

India has also given assistance for capacity building and training of Afghan officials, including on PPP mode of project implementation; and the WTO-related matter, programmes for which were conducted by the ministry of finance and the department of commerce in the past few months.

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