More than 50 percent of Afghanistan’s trade is with its immediate neighbors, and it is expected to pick up as average regional transit costs decrease as a result of initiatives such as the Lapis Lazuli Transit, Trade and Transport Route agreement, according to a new special report by the United States Institute of Peace.
The Lapis Lazuli Transit, Trade and Transport Route agreement, signed at the November 2017 RECCA conference, connects Afghan traders with regional markets in Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey and help Afghan traders reach more distant markets.
The report also highlights that Turkmenistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan – India (TAPI) pipeline project is witnessing tangible gains, and has begun to shift from technical surveys and procurement to construction activities.
With development of the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan, the completed TAPI project is projected to export, over three decades, up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. It is also expected to generate thousands of construction jobs and around $400 million in annual revenue for the Afghan treasury.
Once implemented, according to the report authored by Humayun Hamidzada and Richard Ponzio, the megaproject is expected to accelerate regional economic interdependence and demonstrate the value of regional cooperation.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have much to offer in reinforcing any potential openings in Afghanistan’s peace process by hosting regular diplomatic meetings, providing political support, and encouraging cross-border economic cooperation with the country. The Central Asian states individually and collectively can contribute to efforts to build a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan, the report says.
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is an American federal institution tasked with promoting conflict resolution and prevention worldwide. It provides research, analysis, and training to individuals in diplomacy, mediation, and other peace-building measures.