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8th meeting of Regional Technical Group on Trade, Commerce and Investment CBM of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process held in New Delhi (August 7, 2017)

August 07, 2017

The eighth meeting of the Regional Technical Group of Confidence Building Measure on Trade, Commerce & Investment Opportunities under the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was hosted by India, as the Lead Country, today in New Delhi.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Acting Director General, Economic Cooperation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mr. Hassan Soroosh, and Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Dr. Deepak Mittal, and attended by representatives of 17 participating countries and supporting international organisations, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, Australia, Egypt, Germany, the UK, the US, the EU and the UN.

The participants shared the view that Afghanistan acted as a natural bridge in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration. There was consensus that economic development was an important factor in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia Region. In this context, the participants shared views on various measures and steps to promote transit and trade and realizing reliable and robust connectivity, with Afghanistan as the hub. This included the recognition of the need to make the existing transit and trade agreements more inclusive and comprehensive by expanding them both northwards and southwards to connect South Asia with Central Asia; strengthening growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and involvement of women in economic development, including through women entrepreneurship; and simplifying customs procedures.

The initiative by India to develop a web portal, with participation of FICCI, for exchanging information on regional markets, trade and investment opportunities; and facilitating networking between businesses for the participating countries was appreciated.

The steps taken for development of transit and transport through Chahbahar Port involving India, Afghanistan and Iran, TAPI gas pipeline, CASA-1000, TAT railway line, Lapis Lazuli corridor were assessed positively. All sides agreed on the value of such connectivity and economic integration projects to overall growth, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

With regard to the bilateral initiatives taken by India, the recent establishment of the air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan was welcomed as providing fast and assured access to farmers of Afghanistan to the large markets in South Asia and beyond. India’s assistance for capacity building and training of Afghan officials, including on PPP mode of project implementation; and the WTO related matter, programmes for which that were conducted by the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Commerce, Government of India the past few months were also acknowledged positively.

New Delhi
August 07, 2017

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