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Uzbekistan – Afghanistan: New Prospects for Investment, Trade, Energy and Transport

On May 25, in the city ​​of Termez, within the framework of the visit of the government and business circles of Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, negotiations were held between the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan S. Umurzakov with the head of the Presidential Administration of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Shakir Kargar.

During the talks, the sides discussed issues of cooperation in the political, investment, trade, economic, and transport spheres.

The key topic on the agenda was the project for the construction of the “Mazar-i- Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar” railway, as well as the practical aspects of its implementation. The parties considered the issues of field expeditions, preparation of design estimates, project financing, for each of which appropriate decisions were made. Further actions are outlined to accelerate the implementation of the agreements reached during the meeting of the high-level trilateral working group in Tashkent in February this year.  

Along with this, the parties welcomed the success of the pilot motor rally in April-May from Pakistan to Uzbekistan and back through the territory of Afghanistan. The parties agreed to continue cooperation in this direction for the further development of the transport and transit potential of the two countries.

The urgency of intensifying work to expand investment partnership between the two countries was highlighted, with an additional emphasis on the development of industrial cooperation. The most promising in this regard were the light industry, electrical engineering, production of building materials, agriculture, leather and footwear, and food industries.  

Prospects for deepening trade and economic cooperation were also discussed. It was noted, that over the past four years, the volume of mutual trade has grown by one and a half times, amounting to about $ 800 million at the end of last year. The parties expressed eagerness to implement joint measures to ensure the growth of Uzbek- Afghan trade to the level of $ 2 billion in the coming years. An agreement was reached that to intensify trade cooperation, the relevant ministries and departments of the two countries will accelerate the approval of the draft “Agreement on Preferential Trade” in order to sign it by the end of this year.   

Moreover, it was recognized that the free trade zone “International Trade Center Termez” has great potential. The parties agreed on swiftly developing joint measures to attract entrepreneurs of the two countries to establish cooperation using the resources and capabilities of this platform.

Issues of interaction in the energy sector were discussed, in particular, the acceleration of the implementation of the project for the construction of the power transmission line “Surkhan – Puli – Khumri”. The parties discussed the format of practical cooperation in the preparation of the necessary project documentation and outlined further steps to start construction work.

Prospects for establishing cooperation in the field of healthcare were considered. The parties indicated a mutual interest in the creation of modern medical centers in the border regions of both countries, equipped with high-tech equipment and necessary medications, to establish a system for providing the population of the two countries with a wide range of medical services. 

Also during the negotiations, the prospects for holding in September this year in Kabul the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan were discussed.

Following the talks, further actions were agreed upon to promote joint projects and initiatives within the framework of the discussed areas of cooperation.