Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL: Afghanistan and India on Wednesday launched second air corridor for trade, bypassing Pakistan.
The Kabul-Mumbai air corridor is expected to fetch millions of dollars for Afghan exporters of herbs, fresh and dried fruits on annual basis.
Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Afghanistan’s vice president, told a gathering in Kabul that India is one of Afghanistan’s important trading partners.
“The Afghan government is also seriously pursuing plans to establish rail and road networks to promote transit trade,” Danish said.
India and Afghanistan enjoy cordial ties that have been further complemented by the U.S. in its new South Asia Strategy announced by President Donald Trump in August
As a desperate move to end reliance on Pakistan for trade, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in June launched aerial trade corridor between Kabul and New Delhi.
“Those who create challenge for us should know that we turn challenge into opportunity,” Ghani said back then.
Ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan are marred by mistrust and allegations of cross-border terrorism, however, the two neighbors have expressed willingness to improve relations.
According to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), goods worth $ 20 million have been exported to India since June via the air corridor.
Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has dropped by a quarter from over $ 2 billion to little over $ 1 billion this year due to strained ties resulting in frequent border closures and exchange of fire at the disputed Durand Line border.