Kabuliwala beckons Indians at international trade fair

Kabuliwala beckons Indians at international trade fair

Nearly 50 Afghan businessmen are participating at the fair, reminding people flocking to Hall 12 A in the sprawling Pragati Maidan grounds of Rabindranath Tagore's famous tale "Kabuliwala", what with their Pathani suits and traditional headgear. "For past two years we have been getting very good response here," said Rahmanullah Khan, a dry fruits vendor from Nangarhar in Afganistan, who has joined 30 fellow delegates, exhibiting a range of products from handicrafts to leather goods.

"Last year here, the gross sales for our vendors ranged $10,000-$15,000 per day. I hope this year will be much better. I expect the five days reserved for business to result in some good future contracts," Khan told reporters. His optimism was evident by the queries he and his fellow vendors were managing to generate - with equal support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency. Some other vendors at the pavilion said that the response from India for their almonds, pistachios, cashew and raisins was very encouraging.

"There has always been a huge demand for our dry fruits. Traders from Khari Baoli (a wholesale market in Old Delhi) have been flocking to our stalls. This year, I can see that carpets are also in good demand," Said Abdul Najib, another dry fruits vendor. "The Afghan dry fruits are of very superior quality. They are really good. After all they are Kabuliwallahs," said Lovely Singh, a Delhi based trader who came for wholesale contracts. The Afghan vendors are also pleased by the support being extended by the Indian government and feel trade is the only way they can hope for normalcy back home after decades of strife and conflict.

"This is a very good opportunity for us. In the past years, exports were severely curtailed. We had to rely on the domestic market. These fairs are a good opportunity for us to hope for a better future," said Mansoor Ahmad Saidy. "Participating in such trade fairs helps us expand our production back home. It also encourages the growth of private sector in our country," added Saidy, who represents an NGO, Afghan Women Social Business Development Association. Along with the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, the NGO is also hoping to attract foreign investment into the country in areas like farming, telecommunications, banking, micro-credit, real estate and tourism.

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