Several USAID beneficiary traders of marble, onyx and lapis from Afghanistan signed a number of contracts this week with international buyers at the India Stone Mart, the country’s largest stone industry exposition.
The event was held from February 2-5 at the Jaipur Exhibition and Convention Center and drew more than 25,000 guests and 15,000 traders from 60 countries.
“Afghanistan’s mountains hold massive reserves of marble and other minerals, yet the industry remains underdeveloped. India Stone Mart gives Afghan marble traders the opportunity to negotiate deals, network and make sales,” said Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industries Mohammad Qurban Haqjo. “This not only contributes to the Afghan economy; it also has the important effect of attracting foreign investment in the Afghan mining sector.”
USAID’s Afghanistan Trade and Revenue Project worked with the Ministry of Commerce and Industries to select the Afghan marble exporters to join more than 500 exhibitors from nine countries attending the bi-annual tradeshow. Afghanistan is home to 35 varieties of marble and its Chesht and Khogiani varieties have been compared with Italy’s Carrara marble, regarded as one of the best in the world.
“Afghan traders participating at this year’s India Stone Mart are not just going as businessmen to make sales; they are representing a largely untapped industry with huge potential for growth,” said USAID Mission Director Herbie Smith. “It is expected that such support for increased marble exports leads to upstream investment in value-added technology in marble extraction, cutting and polishing to increase both quality and demand.”
The India Stone Mart is organized by the Center for Development of Stones, the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and the Government of Rajasthan and brings together marble producers and exporters, architects, civil engineers, interior decorators, builders and real estate developers under one roof.
The tradeshow event follows a successful event in Dubai during December 2016 called “Exhibition Afghanistan” that raised awareness of Afghanistan’s biggest exports, including marble and other semi-precious stones.