Pakistan’s Trading Partner Afghanistan Seeks to Join CPEC

While addressing a gathering titled “Role of Parliament in promoting Investment, Trade and People to People exchange under the CPEC,” Asad Qaiser, the National Assembly speaker said that Afghanistan and other regional countries are showing a great deal of interest to becoming part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The National Assembly Speaker commented that China Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative has attracted some countries of the region and they have shown firm interest to become involved in the $60 Billion project because of its tremendous economic and trade benefits. Furthermore, he mentioned that the Afghanistan Government has equally shown its commitment to become a partner in the multi-billion dollar project.

The function which took place in Islamabad and was organised by the NA Secretariat. Also present at the gathering were Sher Ali Arbab the Chief of Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, Mahmood Khan the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other speakers. Asad Qaiser stated CPEC was an all-round project, a game-changer that would be of great benefit to Pakistan and people of the region and would usher in a new era of development, prosperity and progress.

Furthermore, he added that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was sited at a strategic position that would enormously benefit the CPEC Initiative and affirmed there would be efforts made on the parliament level to make sure Khyber Pakhtunkhwa gets the most benefits from projects. Speaker Qaiser was also playing a part to ensure the province gets its due rights as well as its fair share from the hydel power profit.

The NA Speaker talked about the government’s commitment to promoting business and trade relations with Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries and also talked about his plans on visiting Afghanistan in December, along with a body of delegates to help further improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Furthermore, he stated that during this visit the core issues to be discussed with the Afghan officials would be matters concerning Afghanistan’s inclusion in CPEC and their trade relations.

Before now, Dr Omar Zakhilwal former Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan has expressed his county’s interest in becoming part of CPEC and emphasised that a massive development project like CPEC would be of benefit to not just Pakistan but extended regions as well.

If properly executed, China and Pakistan stand to benefit from Afghanistan’s inclusion in CPEC. Already, China has long shown interest in Afghanistan’s latent reserves of natural resources, hence welcoming them in CPEC would boost their trade and Pakistan, on the other hand, will gain from easier access to Central Asia via Afghanistan.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor Initiative is ‘game-changer’ predicted to usher in Investment and industrialisation to Pakistan, and neighbouring Afghanistan will also gain from the carry-over effects. Pakistan has already initiated the construction of various roads (Peshawar-Torkham and 75 km Torkham-Jalalabad roads) to strengthen the connection between the two countries. Afghanistan on the other hand will gain access to become a part of CPEC, and the Belt and Road Initiative as a whole, thus stabilising the country’s economy from the improved trade opportunities.

Earlier this year, Afghanistan commenced transit trade through Gwadar’s port for the first time ever. The trade which was officiated under the 2010 Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, marked the first ever sea trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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