By: Shukria Kohistani
KABUL: The first container train departed from Afghanistan to China here the other day. Its route will pass through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
A train of 41 containers transporting semi-finished stone of mineral talcum powder went to China from the Hairaton station via the Friendship Bridge – a rail-road bridge across the Amu Darya River in transit through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
At a meeting of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation in July, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan agreed to intensify mutual trade and transit of goods. According to the Ministry of Transport of Uzbekistan, in 2019, Uzbek Railways set a 20 percent discount on the transportation of grain and flour from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan, as well as canceled additional fees for commercial goods exported from a neighboring country.
“To intensify transit, the Afghan side intends to provide Tashkent with the nomenclature and volumes of cargo exports from Afghanistan to China and EU countries,” the Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan said at a meeting.
In early December 2017, following the results of a visit to Uzbekistan by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, the governments of the two countries signed an agreement on the construction of the Mazar-e-Sharif-Herat railway. The agreement provides for the participation in the design and construction of the new road of the Uzbek side. The Afghan side will engage in attracting financial resources for the implementation of the project.
In April this year, the special envoy of the Chinese Foreign Ministry for Afghanistan, Deng Xijun, at a meeting with the Special Representative of the President of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan, Ismatulla Irgashev, said that China was ready to join the project for the construction of the new Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway.