'New Silk Road' to boost economy of all Afghan neighbours

'New Silk Road' to boost economy of all Afghan neighbours

"We believe the New Silk Road Initiative can provide a critical economic boost for all of Afghanistan's neighbours," said Robert Hormats, the Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs.

The basis for the "New Silk Road" vision is that if Afghanistan is firmly embedded in the economic life of the region, it will be better able to attract new investment, benefit from its resource potential, and provide increasing economic opportunity and hope for its people, he said.

"We also believe that the New Silk Road Initiative will be of particular importance to Pakistan, and can be an important way for Pakistan to further develop its economy and provide jobs for its people," Hormats said in his remarks at a think-tank here.

Last week, Clinton co-chaired a Foreign Ministerial meeting with 30 of her counterparts, including all of Afghanistan's neighbours, on the "New Silk Road" vision in New York.

The region as a whole, he said, must focus on setting the broad context for sustainable growth, because they all have an economic as well as a security incentive in doing so.

"The international community must continue to find ways to support and encourage that growth. As the Secretary said in Chennai last July, the 'New Silk Road' vision means upgrading the facilities at border crossings, such as India and Pakistan are now doing at Wagah," he said.

Hormats said it means removing the bureaucratic barriers and other impediments to the free flow of goods and people.

"It means casting aside the outdated trade policies that we all still are living with and adopting new rules for the 21st century. The entire region stands to benefit from expanded economic connectivity," he said.

"That's why we are supportive of initiatives that harness the collective economic strength of the region," he said.

"For instance, just today the Indian and Pakistani Commerce Ministers — for the first time in 35 years — concluded meetings in New Delhi and announced a path to further normalise trade relations.

They were joined by hundreds of Indian and Pakistani business leaders who joined the conference. And last year, Afghanistan and Pakistan took the brave step of agreeing to an updated transit trade agreement," Hormats said.

The agreement will adopt international best practices at border crossings and harmonize customs arrangements, reduce smuggling, and increase government revenues from legitimate trade.

"Both countries have discussed the potential for expanding the agreement to cover Central Asia. Eventually, I hope that the entire region, from Astana to Mumbai, will enjoy expanded trade and transit cooperation," he said.

"Other initiatives seek to match energy from Central Asia with Pakistan and India — two markets with significant electricity needs. The TAPI pipeline project would bring on-shore natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to markets in Pakistan and India. Other efforts would facilitate the transmission of electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India," he said.

Construction of new projects would create thousands of jobs across the entire panorama of Central Asia, and unlock private enterprises suppressed by the lack of reliable electricity, Hormats said.

"Critically, the New Silk Road vision also includes an emphasis on the role of women. The Chinese have a saying that women hold up half of the world. In today's world you cannot build a modern economy when you exclude half of your human capital," he said.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)