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Karzai invites India Inc to invest in Afghanistan

Mumbai, Nov 10, 2012 ,DH News Service 22:06 IST

Says Afghan law will protect investments

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (R) with Commerce  Minister Anand Sharma in Mumbai on Saturday. REUTERS
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday urged captains of Indian industry not to shy away from investing in his mineral-rich country, pointing out the gains China has reaped, by investing there.

Further, Karzai said his country is ready for investments and his administration will do everything possible and accord special treatment to Indian investors. “Indian businesses need not be shy thinking of investing in Afghanistan. The Chinese were there long before you came five or six years ago and they have now taken two or three major contracts,” he said.

Karzai added, “We would like to give you a better platform. We would like to welcome you on a red carpet and others on a grey carpet. But you need to arrive on the red carpet. If you don’t arrive on the red carpet, it will get dusty. Therefore, do hurry up in coming and take advantage of the opportunities in Afghanistan.”

The Afghan President also reassured captains of Indian industry: “You need not worry about your investments. Not only will Afghan law protect you, but also Afghan people will add to your profits.” He also dwelt on rising competition in his country saying, “Competition is strong. You have now competition from the West arriving in Afghanistan,” and pointed out that those who came in the past few years like a telecom company with $5 million investment has now become $600-700 million and this applies to other sectors as well.

Karzai appreciated India’s aid of $2 billion, despite not being a dollar economy and went on saying, “Afghanistan’s forex reserves, including gold, have risen to $7 billion now from $180 million in 2002.”

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Anand Sharma, who also partook in the session, observed Karzai’s visit to India as a homecoming since the Afghan Presidnt had completed his post-graduation studies in Shimla. “We can easily reach $1 billion (of trade) within next three years,” Sharma said, while pointing out that the bilateral trade between the two countries was over $600 million last year.

On India’s commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation, Sharma said, “It (Afghanistan) has the potential to absorb much more than the committed $16 billion of global development assistance in this decade.”

Drawing a parallel between the Afghan and Indian economies and the need to grow at over 8 per cent, the minister said both the countries “have no choice or option, but an imperative dimension to create employment for 12 million new jobs”.

Indusrialist Adi Godrej, who is also the CII president, speaking at the business session outlined a 5-point agenda to strengthen the traditional bonds of friendship between the two nations. He also suggested Afghanistan embrace a frugal innovation approach to help small and micro entrepreneurs and women under the small development projects in Afghanistan.

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