A new, modern Silk Road through Afghanistan is becoming a reality—brick-by-brick as new transport corridors are developed, with the arrival of new shipping containers by rail and road, through the transfer of digital data, and as each negotiation between the regional governments of Central, South, and Southwest Asia unleashes the full potential from greater business-to-business and people-to-people interaction between our proud nations and rich cultures of Eurasia. Twelve reasons why a modern Silk Road is taking root in and through Afghanistan:
1. TAPI Natural Gas Pipeline: A historic Memorandum of Understanding and Shareholders Agreement was signed, in December 2015, by the Governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India and associated investors.
2. CASA 1000 Regional Energy Market: Construction of the 500 KV transmission line between Tajikistan and Pakistan through Afghanistan commenced in May 2016 for this project which also includes the export of hydropower from the Kyrgyz Republic.
3. TAP-500: In December 2015, the Governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan pledged to work to establish a new 500-kV transmission line, and Tripartite Technical Groups were set-up in May 2016 to help advance negotiations.
4. One-Belt-One-Road initiative and Afghanistan: The first train arrived at Hairatan in northern Afghanistan, on 7 September 2016, from China, following a Memoradum of Understanding signing in May 2016.
5. Lapis-Lazuli Transit, Trade & Transport Route Agreement: Discussions are ongoing to improve road, rail, and sea infrastructure and transit procedures between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.
6. International Transport and Transit Corridor (Chabahar Agreement): The agreement was signed in May 2016, paving the way for new Indian investments in Chabahar port and an associated transport corridor to Afghanistan.
7. Five Nations Railway Corridor: The feasibility study for the rail corridor—connecting China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran—is ongoing.
8. World Trade Organization: Regional trade relations enhanced as Afghanistan became the 164th Member of the World Trade Organization (29 July 2016)
9. Special Economic Zones/Multimodal Transport and Logistics Facilities: The Afghan Government is supporting dry port development in, for example, Kabul, Jalalabad, and Mazar-i-Sharif. Several NATO bases could also be converted into dry ports.
10. Digital Silk Road: To date, 23 provincial capitals and over 70 major districts maintain broadband connectivity.
11. Enhancing Regional Business-to-Business Partnerships: The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries has forged alliances with a dozen business chambers in neighboring countries.
12. Labor Exchange & Remittances: To further labor migration benefits for Afghan workers, the Afghan Government is focused on remittances, the Afghan Diaspora, and facilitating return and reintegration of migrant workers.
Source: Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA.AF)