US Ambassador John R. Bass on Thursday launched the second annual “Passage to Prosperity: India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show,” scheduled to take place in Mumbai from September 12 to 15.
Organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the event on Thursday was aimed at stimulating interest in and sharing information about the September event.
More than 200 Afghan government officials and business representatives, international donors, NGO partners, members of the diplomatic corps, and foreign mission commercial attachés attended the event.
The US Ambassador called on the private sector to participate in the expo and work to extend their business in the country.
“We know, and we want the world to know that there is much more in this country than violence and conflict. And we want to help all of you ensure the rest of the world understands Afghanistan and knows Afghanistan for the complexity and intricacy of its carpets, for the beauty of its gemstones, marble and other stones, for the delicious fruits and nuts and vegetables that come from this country,” the US envoy said at the event at the US embassy in Kabul.
Loren Stoddard, Director of Economic Growth for USAID in Afghanistan, said last year’s expo had had limited space for the health, education, energy, civil aviation, mining and other sectors, but that this year, the expo would be a lot bigger.
The Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce and Industries meanwhile said the expo was a unique opportunity for the Afghan private sector.
“We do have a commitment. The government has a commitment to stand on our own feet and be self-reliant. We have acknowledged that self-reliance cannot happen without the private sector,” said Adela Raz Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Cooperation.
“Such conferences encourage the private sector to keep trying and be ensured that they are not alone, and that the National Unity Government and the international partners and donors are supporting them to play their role in the development of the Afghan economy,” said Shafiq Ataee, technical deputy head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
In his South Asia Strategy, President Donald Trump declared his commitment to engaging India as a partner in contributing to Afghanistan’s economic stability. This commitment is bearing fruit through Passage to Prosperity, which has grown to encompass ever greater trade relationships with markets beyond India. This will help Afghanistan realize its goal of increasing exports to $2 billion by 2020.
During the September trade and investment show in Mumbai, Afghanistan’s finest textiles, carpets, gems, and jewelry will be on display for international buyers. India offers an ideal location for investors to experience the treasures that Afghanistan has to offer.
In addition to product sales, this year’s show will facilitate partnerships between Afghans and international actors in specialized healthcare, higher education, services, and trade promotion. These partnerships will play an essential role in building economic ties among Afghanistan, India, and other countries.
The Passage to Prosperity is an annual event that aims to advance regional integration by strengthening economic and trade ties between Afghanistan and international markets through business-to-business matching and consumer sales.
The first Passage to Prosperity: India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show was held in New Delhi. More than $27 million in contracts was signed between Indian buyers and Afghan vendors for both raw and processed agricultural products. In addition, a number of Indian buyers and Afghan vendors signed MOUs valued at nearly $214 million during the four-day event, and more than $10 million worth of carpets, gemstones, jewelry, marble, and food-related products were sold.
This year’s event in Mumbai promises to build on the first show’s successes and expand its impact by reaching beyond India.
Afghan investors from different sectors including Afghan luxury goods, agriculture, energy, health and education, and mining and heavy industry will attend the show, USAID said in a statement.