New export route from Afghanistan to India via Iran will connect millions of Afghans to the outside world, says President Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has officially opened a new trade route to enable Afghanistan to export to India through Iran as it seeks to boost the Afghan economy.

The route would connect “hundreds of villages and millions of Afghans to the outside world,” Ghani said at a ceremony on 24 February 2019 in the western city of Zaranj close to the Iranian border.

It is hoped that the new route will boost the Afghan economy in a bid to deter Afghans from migrating abroad.

In recent years, thousands of Afghans have left the country in search of better economic opportunities, but many are voluntarily returning home. According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), more than 800, 000 Afghan migrants returned to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan in 2018.

President Ghani said the route will enable Afghanistan to access overseas markets to strengthen its economy.

“Chabahar Port is the result of healthy cooperation between India, Iran, and Afghanistan this will ensure economic growth,” he said.

Economic expert, Arif Khan, based in Kabul, told The Migrant Project the new route will open doors for landlocked Afghanistan to export to India through the Iran’s Chabahar port. He said; “Now we have an alternative, Chabahar seaport, which will connect Afghanistan and help us improve our exports which will boost our economy.”

This is the first time that landlocked Afghanistan has shipped goods to India through the Iranian port of Chabahar.  An estimated 570 tonnes of Afghan products, including dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products, were transported in 23 trucks from the Afghan city of Zaranj to Iran’s Chabahar port and then  shipped to the Indian city of Mumbai.

In return, the Government of India has sent food items to Afghanistan, including 2000 tonnes of lentils and 1.1 million tonnes of wheat.

According to officials, India is considered to be the largest export destination. In 2018, Afghan exports to India stood at USD 740 million.

TMP – 05/03/2019

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