A delegation of Afghan and Chinese officials would visit northeastern Badakhshan province to study prospects for the revival of the Silk Road, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) announced on Tuesday.
Afghanistan and China share an 85-km border in the Wakhan area of Badakhshan. Both Zebak and Wakhan districts border Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.The ancient road involves a series of trade and cultural transmission routes that were vital to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, pilgrims, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea.During his last week’s visit to Beijing, President Dr. Ashraf Ghani held talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and other leaders on the revival of the route, regional stability and issues of bilateral interest. Ghani also won concrete aid pledges as China agreed to provide $81.8 million in grant assistance to the Afghan government for 2014 and a further 1.5 billion yuan from 2015 to 2017. Xi urged regional countries to extend a helping hand to Afghanistan in the interest of peace.Khan Jan Alkozai, ACCI deputy chief, told a news conference in Kabul the revival of the Silk Road was important for Afghanistan, China and the entire reason. During the presidential visit, he said, Chinese leaders evinced a keen interest in reviving the route.The official said Afghanistan’s ambassador to China was scheduled to visit Wakhan district during the current week. Subsequently, he added, a Chinese team would arrive in Afghanistan to explore prospects for the project.The Silk Road revival would cut five times the cost of transportation of goods between the two countries. At present, Alkozai explained, Afghan business sent their trade items to Dubai before transferring them to China.However, the ACCI official said facilities for Afghan entrepreneurs, including visas and direct transportation of goods to China, were also discussed during Ghani’s visit.ACCI head Attiqullah Nasrat agreed the route’s restoration would boost Afghanistan’s economy on the one hand and strengthen its trade links with China on the other. However, he suggested an accurate assessment of the project’s cost.Chinese officials want the silk route revival cost to be paid jointly by Afghanistan, China and other countries. Nasrat added the Chinese were interested in investing in the areas of mining, power generation from solar and coal resources and Afghanistan’s infrastructure development.During Ghani’s visit, he said, ACCI and China’s National Confederation of Industry and Commerce signed a cooperation pact to expand their trade relations and share economic data.