Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officially launched the sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) on Thursday in Kabul with deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai formerly welcoming delegates.
Ministers from 30 countries and representatives from at least 40 international organizations are attending the two-day summit.
MoFA officials said the main topics of discussion over the two days will include economic projects, transit and trade cooperation, customs systems, employing of Afghan workers in Gulf countries, connecting Afghanistan with regional countries and an alternate transit route.
Karzai said on Thursday that in addition to mapping out the way forward, delegates will also revisit commitments made at the previous RECCA Summit, that was held in Dushanbe, in Tajikistan, in 2012.
The deputy minister went on to say that delegates will in the next two days also look at finding solutions for challenges that lie ahead.
He said the summit was critical for the region in terms of economic growth and development, adding that he hopes the work done during the next two days will be followed through and implemented.
He assured delegates that Afghanistan was committed to working with the countries in the region.
In turn, Sattar Murad, the Minister of Economy, also welcomed the delegates and in his speech said that Afghanistan currently needs assistance from foreign countries.
He said that although Afghanistan was working hard at increasing government's revenue, the economy is struggling. He said one of government's main areas of concern is that of the weak Afghan currency.
He said the country needs sound economic policies – policies that can also help generate revenue through production and industrialization.
Murad said that among the main goals of RECCA will be to draw up strategies for the near future and to see that they are implemented
Murad also raised the issue of customs and said that this sector needs to be addressed.
Another focal area of the summit will be that of railway links, says Murad adding that the issue of the Chabahar port, between Iran and Afghanistan, will also come under the spotlight.
Since 2005, RECCA has provided a forum for regional engagement on economic cooperation. Critical to its success has been keeping pace with global, regional, and domestic economic shifts, and providing a platform for regional and donor
governments for a more coordinated investment framework, while also availing itself of emerging investment opportunities, including for the private sector.
Since its establishment, over the past decade RECCA has worked to:
• Facilitate implementation of a select number of high impact regional economic cooperation investment projects;
• Maximize inter-regional trade, including with and through Afghanistan;
• Identify a series of economic policy priorities;
• Create a regional energy market;
• Facilitate trade and transit routes;
• Harmonize customs and borders routines; and,
• Expand markets and market access for public and private investors.