India has USD 3 billion untapped trade potential with Afghanistan, says H. E. Mr. Mamundzay

“Afghanistan is the only country in South Asia with which India has a Strategic Partnership and our bilateral trade continues as before despite the change in political regime in Afghanistan. There is USD 3 billion worth untapped trade potential between India and Afghanistan. I suggest WTC Mumbai and All India Association of Industries (AIAI) to set up a task force to realize this untapped trade potential. India can import coal of high calorific value (upto 12,000 kCal/Kg) at affordable cost from Afghanistan, instead of relying on distant countries such as Indonesia and Australia. Indian companies can export heavy machineries, textile, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fertilizers, while Afghanistan can export high quality coal, precious & semi-precious stones, gems, copper and rare earth minerals,” said H. E. Mr. Farid Mamundzay, Ambassador, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at an interactive meeting. The event was organized by World Trade Center Mumbai and All India Association of Industries (AIAI).

Speaking about the emerging business opportunities, His Excellency pointed out, “Indian mining companies can explore copper and rare earth reserves in Afghanistan jointly with partner companies in UAE or Saudi Arabia. Currently, Afghan mines are being explored by firms from China, Poland and other European countries. Afghanistan exports lot of copper, rare earth minerals and marbles to China and Italy, from where they are value added and re-exported to other countries. Afghanistan can consider exporting these raw minerals to India so that it can create huge employment opportunities in India in value addition and re-export operations. India can import high quality precious stones and gems from Afghanistan if Indian companies set up testing and certification facilities in Afghanistan.”

H. E. Mr. Mamundzay further added, “Afghanistan is strategically located as it shares land border with six Asian countries and hence it can be a gateway for India to the more than 1.7 billion South Asian and Central Asian market. Afghanistan can be a conduit for Indian exports of agriculture machineries, pharma, chemicals and other goods to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries. Overall, there is USD 7 billion worth of untapped trade potential within South Asia and Central Asian countries.”

The Ambassador assured Indian businessmen about economic stability in Afghanistan by pointing out, “There is no security issue in Afghanistan as many Indian firms are operating in that country. The exchange rate of Afghanistan is stable and Indian traders can settle their transactions directly using banking channels as there is no US sanction on Afghan banks.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Dr. Vijay Kalantri, Chairman, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai pointed out, “India has centuries-old trade and cultural relations with Afghanistan. Both the countries should work together to implement the long delayed India-Afghanistan-Iran transport corridor which can reduce transport cost for intra-regional trade within South and Central Asia. India’s power production will get a major boost if we import high calorific value coal from Afghanistan.”

Dr. Kalantri suggested that both the countries can exchange trade delegation to enhance trade volume, which has potential to double to USD 3 billion from USD 1.5 billion, which was the pre-pandemic high reached in FY20. We can strengthen trade through the Delhi-Kabul air corridor and the Chahabar Port, which is free from the US sanction and which is the shortest route to Afghanistan and central Asia.”

The meeting was also addressed by Ms. Zakia Wardak, Consul General, Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Mumbai, Mr. Qadir Shah, Counselor (Head – Trade Office), Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Mr. Manpreet Singh, President, Indian Chamber of International Business. The event was attended by Mr. Sediqullah Sahar, Education Attaché, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and members of trade and industry.

Ms. Rupa Naik, Executive Director, MVIRDC WTC Mumbai proposed vote of thanks for the event.