China has great potential to invest in Afghanistan: interview with first secretary of Afghan Embassy in China
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 31 / Trend , D.Khatinoglu/
The First Secretary of Afghan Embassy in China, Haroon Najmpoor spoke with Trend Persian Desk in an exclusive interview.
Trend : Recently, Kabul and Beijing have discussed the project of economic corridors to connect China with Iran via Afghanistan. Under the project, Afghanistan will be a transit country. Were the talks held about the investment to improve infrastructure, as your country will play the role of transit?
Haroon Najmpoor: The Afghan government two years ago, raised this idea, and the Chinese side accepted this proposal. The sides held several discussions on this issue. During Afghan Foreign Minister Mr Spanta's recent visit to China, the sides have reached an agreement to study opportunities of the project. The implementation of the project requires more funding. The project will help to develop the whole region and will connect China via Afghanistan with the Gulf countries and Iran. It is planned to build a railway under the project. The implementation of the project is beneficial for Iran, as well.
Q: The trade turnover between Afghanistan and China amounted to $600 million in 2008. How can you assess the current level of trade turnover between the two countries, and with what companies and in which sectors does Your country cooperate?
A: The level of trade turnover between the two countries has not changed. Of course, this figure is an indicator of a direct trade between the two countries. The level of trade turnover between Afghanistan and China through a third country is higher. In 2008, Afghanistan participated in an exhibition of imports and exports, which was held in the Chinese city of Kunming. We will participate in the Shanghai exhibition in 2010. China removed customs duties from 180 products exported to Afghanistan, which testifies the development of trade relations. Chinese companies invested in the communications sector, construction and rehabilitation of roads, construction work, mining, as well as in other areas of Afghanistan.
Q: On Nov. 20 in 2008, the Afghan Industry and Mines Minister, Ibrahim Adil divulged the name of the winner in the tender for the largest Aynak copper mine. The China Metallurgical Group company, offering $3 billion, won the tender. Did this Chinese company make investments? How do you evaluate the future relations between Afghanistan and China?
A: Yes, the Chinese company has made these investments, and on July 10, the ceremony took place to mark the start of production of copper at the Aynak mine. This is the biggest investment in Afghanistan. If we take into account the number of the unused mines in Afghanistan, it will become apparent that China has huge potential for investment in Afghanistan. Along with the increase of China's influence in the region, it will serve peace and stability in the region as a whole.
Q: China and the United States are the strategic and economic rivals. What can You say about the impact of this rivalry on Afghanistan?
A: The United States and China are working closely together in Afghanistan. Currently, Afghanistan has become a center of international cooperation. China is friendly neighbor for Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an independent country and determines how to build relations with other states. On the other hand, our strategic allies support the economic development of Afghanistan and the whole region, including China.
Q: China, taking advantage of its position and opportunities, helps Afghanistan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Is China concerned about the presence of NATO in Afghanistan?
A: China is a neighboring country that has never had problems with Afghanistan and, therefore, intends to increase cooperation with our country. China supports Afghanistan's political development. China's investment in Afghanistan's various projects can testify this fact. We invite China to invest. Creating a "trade corridor" will further develop relations.
With regard to the NATO presence, I can say that the alliance troops are in Afghanistan under the UN Security Council resolutions. China is also a member of the UN Security Council. As to China's concern about the presence of NATO in Afghanistan, I can say that we do not feel such concern. China supports the presence of international forces in Afghanistan because it actively fights against terrorism, which is a threat throughout the region.