The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoF) on Tuesday said Afghanistan is preparing to export the first shipment of products through the Lapis Lazuli Transit, Trade and Transport Route within the next two days.
Cotton, dried fruit and sesame are among the products which will be exported through the route and 50 percent of the shipping cost will be provided by the government, said MoFA.
Meanwhile, officials of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) have called on the Afghan government to consider more facilities for the business community to export their products through such routes.
Afghanistan was expected to export the first shipment on December 7.
The Afghan products are expected to be sent through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey and onwards to European markets.
“This Thursday, the first shipment of our products will be exported through the Lapis Lazuli Route to Turkey in the presence of high-level officials from the government and delegations from member nations,” said Hassan Soroosh, Acting Director General for Economic Cooperation of MoFA.
“We expect this will not only be symbolic, but on a permanent basis. We should have the opportunity to export our fruit and minerals through the route to overcome our dependency on others,” said Khan Jan Alokozay, deputy head of ACCI.
Based on statistics, the first shipment will include more than 175 tons of cotton, dried fruit and sesame, which will be exported through the route within the frame of TIR Carnet.
The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was signed in October last year between Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia and once implemented will become a key international trade and transport corridor to connect Afghanistan with Europe directly.
The Lapis Lazuli Route will begin in Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan.
From there it will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti.
It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.
The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was finalized after three years of talks and was signed during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.