SAARC member states’ investment urged in Afghanistan
KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghan officials on Thursday called on South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to make investment in Afghanistan and provide long-term visas to Afghan traders.
A SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation is on a visit to capital Kabul as part of the delegation’s mission to discuss and promote business relations between member countries of the group.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Afghanistan are members of SAARC.
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) head Atiqullah Nasrat in a joint conference with the visiting delegation said the aim of the conference was to strengthen trade relations between SAARC member countries and find solutions to problems.
He said Afghanistan had currently 85 percent business relations with Pakistan and 15 percent with India, but very little with other SAARC members.
Nasrat added other SAARC members had provided better trade facilities each other and cited issuing one-year visas to traders as an example, something Afghan traders were deprived of.
Deputy ACCI head Mohammad Younus Momand asked SAARC member countries to invest in Afghanistan in areas of mines, agriculture, industry and other areas that were safe for investment.
“We expect SAARC member traders would invest in Afghanistan and cooperate with us in building our infrastructures,” he said.
Afghanistan commerce and industry deputy minister Muzammil Shinwari said political rivalries among some regional countries had affected trade affairs among SAARC members.
He said agreements among SAARC members were violated, saying Afghanistan had problems in transit trade with Pakistan and similarly Pakistan had problems with India.
“We should not mix politics and trade, we should promote trade among SAARC member countries,” he said.
Suraj Vaidya, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry director, told the conference that their visit to Kabul was aimed at strengthening trade relations among member countries.
“We came to Afghanistan and saw it with our own eyes that security problem is not so serious as we heard about it, we were told there is no security in Afghanistan, particularly for investors,” he said.
He asked SAARC member countries to invest in Afghanistan where many investment opportunities were available.
Vaidya confirmed Afghan traders’ problems and said they would press their governments to resolve them.
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