Finance Minister Arun Jaitley along with Chief Executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah will inaugurate an India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show ‘Passage to Prosperity’ here on Wednesday.
The three-day event, sponsored by the US, will focus on better regional integration by strengthening economic ties between Afghanistan and India.
The event will highlight recently signed agreements, showcase Afghan companies and Indian innovation, and launch a forthcoming single-sector event series.
Special Charge d’ affaires Afghanistan Ambassadr Hugo Llorens and Charge d’ affaires US Embassy Mary Kay Carlson will also be present at the inauguration.
The show will feature Afghan entities from the economic growth, agriculture, health, education, gender and energy sectors seeking trade and investment opportunities with India, along with CEOs from major Indian and US companies. Consumer goods from Afghanistan like carpets, gemstones, marble, saffron, dried fruits and nuts will also be on display.
A senior US official said over 800 Indian companies have confirmed their participation in the trade and investment show, apart from around 240 Afghanistan vendors.
The official confirmed that the ‘Passage to Prosperity’ show was a deliverable from the Heart of Asia conference and “certainly the relationship between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as PM Modi’s trip to Washington with President Donald Trump”.
He informed that diversified American conglomerate General Electric has “expressed interest in pursuing some ideas or atleast exploring opportunities in Afghanistan”.
The sixth edition of Heart of Asia conference, an annual regional gathering of Asian and other countries, was held in Amritsar in December last year.
“There has always been a natural trade partnership with India and Afghanistan. This is an opportunity to help Afghanistan’s private sector grow a bit… Unlike the other trade shows we have had in the past, this is not just a one- off event. We hope to gain some momentum and use this as a platform to work long term,” the US official said.
He said the US was exploring making the India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show an annual event and looking at Mumbai as the host next year, and confirmed that seven trade shows with Afghanistan have been held in India since 2014.
“Afghanistan is working very hard as a government to bring in investors as much as possible to make it a better marketplace and certainly a more desirable place for their trade partners around the region,” the official said, adding that although security in Afghanistan has been an issue, it has not hampered entrepreneurs interested in the nation to reach out and forge partnerships.
Besides, the US official said “certain airlines or air cargo companies in India who are looking to go to Kabul to bring back carpets or food” and about 20 flights have run till now under the India-Afghanistan Direct Air Freight Corridor established on June 19.