The first shipment of Iranian products arrived this week in Afghanistan via a new $75 million railroad that links Iran’s eastern city of Khaf to Herat.
This week’s shipment was dispatched as a trial run to detect possible problems on the route, Iranian media reports stated.
Construction of the railway began in April 2007 and was due to finish in 2009, but was delayed.“The first consignment of goods imported from Iran which included 500 tonnes of cement entered the country [Afghanistan] via the Herat-Khaf railway,” an Afghan official from Herat said.
The 130 km long Khaf-Herat railway is strategically important as it gives Afghanistan easy access to Iranian ports at Chabahar and Bandar Abbas.
According to the Afghanistan Railway Authority, the railway forms one of its most important regional connectivity projects, as it will provide the land-locked country with a link to Iranian ports and rail networks, Turkey, and Europe, Iranian media stated.
Freight traffic is predicted to be around two million tonnes a year, with imports to include oil, construction materials, and food and exports to include grain, dried fruit, plants and medical items.
The operation of a passenger service via this railway is also being considered. According to initial studies, passenger traffic could reach 321,000 passengers in a year.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that “while the Khaf-Herat railway is to be inaugurated in the coming days as a symbol of great cooperation between the two countries, it is inevitable to take care of the suspicious actions of the ill-wishers of our relations [between Tehran and Kabul]”.
Mehr news agency reported that Iran’s exports to Afghanistan are projected to reach $2.7 billion by March next year.
Foundation stone of new industrial park laid in Balkh province
The foundation stone of a new industrial park in Balkh province was laid on Sunday in the presence of officials, elders and members of the private sector.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the occasion, Noorul Hadi Abu Adris, deputy governor of Balkh province, emphasized the need for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to encourage and support the private sector. He said: “In order to solve the problems, serious measures and such projects are implemented for the development of the country.”
Syed Mohammad Naeem Mohammadi, general director of industrial parks of the ministry of commerce and industry, thanked the authorities for handing over the land, and setting up this park. He asked businessmen and investors to invest in the park.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that they have allocated about 4,000 acres of land for the industrial park; the first phase will include 244 acres of this land, where a commercial center will be built.
As well as the center, 3.6 kms of walls will be built along with 10 kms of roads. This will be completed within six months. Meanwhile, Nooruddin Azizi, acting minister of commerce and industry, has inaugurated Boost Industrial Estate and National Industrial Estate in Helmand Province.
The press office of the ministry has published a newsletter saying that Azizi said the opening of industrial parks was part of their efforts to industrialize Afghanistan.
Boost Industrial Town covers 175 acres of land and National Industrial Town is on 2,000 acres of land in Helmand province.
The acting minister of industry and trade added that: “The opening of industrial towns in the country, the transformation of Afghanistan from an economy dependent on imports to an economy dependent on exports is the priority of the economic policy of the Islamic Emirate.”
Iran’s non-oil exports to Afghanistan up 4%
The value of Iran’s non-oil exports to Afghanistan increased by four percent during the first seven months of the current Solar year, as compared to the same period of time in the past year, the Tehran Times reported.
According to Ruhollah Latifi, the spokesman of the International Relations and Trade Development Committee of Iran’s House of Industry, Mining and Trade, Iran exported non-oil commodities worth $975 million to Afghanistan in the seven-month period of this year.
Latifi said Iran has a 35 percent share in Afghanistan’s import market, which is a considerable figure in bilateral trade ties.
Mohammad-Mehdi Javanmard-Ghassab, the economic adviser of the Iranian president’s special envoy on Afghanistan affairs, stated that the country is seeking to export technology, technical know-how as well as technical and engineering services to Afghanistan.
Increasing the production of Iranian products in Afghanistan is also on the agenda, he emphasized.
According to Mohammad Ghanadzadeh, the deputy head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO), the trade between Iran and Afghanistan has increased by 20 percent in the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21).
Ghanadzadeh said Iran is ready to cooperate with Afghanistan in the country’s development and reconstruction projects, Tehran Times reported.
The Iranian and Afghan governments are taking some prominent measures to boost trade between the two countries.
In early March, Iran’s trade center and permanent exhibition of Iranian products was inaugurated in Kabul with the aim of developing trade relations between the two countries.
Then in late July, a joint exhibition of products made in Iran and Afghanistan was held in Herat.
More recently the two countries signed five memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on cooperation in different economic sectors.
The MOUs were signed in a ceremony on November 9 in the presence of Iranian Agriculture Minister Mohammad-Ali Nikbakht, President Raisi’s special envoy for Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi, and Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The MOUs include the cooperation document of the Iran-Afghanistan Joint Economic Committee meeting, the document of the two sides’ Joint International Road Transport Cooperation Committee meeting, the MOU between Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) and the Afghan side, the MOU between Iran’s Esfahan Steel Company and the Afghan side, and the MOU between Iran’s Secretariat of Free Trade and Special Economic Zones and the Afghan sides, Tehran Times reported.
Qashqari oil field extracting 400 metric tons per day: ministry
The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MoMP) says Qashqari oil wells in Sar-e-Pul province are pumping out at least 400 metric tons per day.
According to MoMP, oil extraction will start from new wells in the near future in the province, which will significantly increase the amount extracted.
Chamber of Commerce and Investments officials meanwhile say that the country holds a lot of oil and that the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum needs to encourage domestic investment.
“A joint company should be established and everyone should have their share and also a favorable environment for domestic investors in order to invest,” said Khanjan Alkozi, a member of ACCI.
Economic experts also believe that Afghanistan is rich in various natural resources, especially in oil, and if proper planning is done to utilize these resources, it can have a deep and positive impact on the economic development of the country.
“I am sure that the amount of oil production and extraction will increase and even we should be able to produce more than 1,000 tons, but the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) must take basic steps in this area and equalize all investment conditions,” said an economic analyst.
Local officials in Sar-e-Pul however said that the amount of oil extracted from Qashqari oil wells has increased to 900 tons daily, earning $600,000.
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