Afghanistan emerging from economic isolation: Hormats
"The Afghanistan of today is beginning to emerge from its economic isolation. Though the infrastructure gap remains large, yet the answer is not only about building new roads and rail lines," the undersecretary for economic, energy and agricultural affairs said.
As a whole, the region must focus on setting the broad context for sustainable growth, because they all had an economic as well as a security incentive in doing so, Robert Hormats stressed.
"The importance of improving connections between South and Central Asia -- especially Afghanistan and Pakistan -- is made all the more urgent as we and our allies begin the transition process, which will ultimately result in the complete handover of security responsibility to the Afghans," Hormats said in his address at a think-tank.
He said the basis for the "New Silk Road" vision was that if Afghanistan was firmly embedded in the economic life of the region, it would be better able to attract new investment, benefit from its resource potential and provide increasing economic opportunity and hope for its people.
"We also believe that the New Silk Road Initiative will be of particular importance to Pakistan, and can be an important way for Pakistan to further develop its economy and provide jobs for its people," he said.
He urged the international community to continue to find ways to encourage that growth. "I want to underline again that the entire region stands to benefit from expanded economic connectivity. That's why we are supportive of initiatives that harness the collective economic strength of the region."
Besides the Afghan-Pakistan transit trade agreement, other initiatives seek to match energy from Central Asia with Pakistan and India — two markets with significant electricity needs.
The TAPI pipeline project would bring on-shore natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to markets in Pakistan and India. Other efforts would facilitate the transmission of electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, he concluded.
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