Officials from the Afghan government, private sector and embassy of China at a ceremony in Kabul on Thursday said problems around the “Sino-Afghan Special Railway Transportation” have been resolved and exports through the trade route will start in the near future.
According to Afghanistan’s Railway Authority, the railway line was inaugurated in August 2016 and the first train from the route arrived in Hairatan Port in the northern Balkh province in November 2017.
However, so far, Afghan investors have not been able to send their goods through the railway line.
“We believe that this trade route will strengthen bilateral ties between Afghanistan and China, especially under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative,” said Hassan Sorush, head of economic cooperation department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Afghanistan is enough flexile to take steps in line with the region’s benefits. We also expect beneficial cooperation in trade and transit ties in the region,” said Khan Wali Basharmal, technical deputy head for the Administrative Office of President.
Representatives of Chinese companies in Afghanistan said Uzbekistan has decreased the fee for the railway and it will help traders to use the trade route for exporting and importing goods.
“The problems with Uzbekistan have been resolved to some extent. Uzbekistan has decreased the taxes to minimum,” said Ainuddin Najman, representative of China’s BMMT Company in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, China’s commercial attaché to Afghanistan Deyan said the Belt and Road initiative has increased Afghanistan-China trade values to $1 billion per year.
“Afghanistan has benefited a lot from China’s Belt and Road initiative. From November 2018 up to now, China, based on an intra-state agreement, has imported 1,200 tons of pine nuts valued $40 million,” said Deyan.
An official of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said trade through the railway line is faced with some problems inside Afghanistan despite that many issues in this respect have been addressed.
“Around 500 big wagons that have arrived in Hairatan Port, are stopped there for 16 days and are not allowed to unload. It is deliberately being asked from Uzbekistan government to deteriorate its relations with us,” the ACCI Acting Director Khan Jan Alokozay said.