China to import Afghan pine nuts worth over $2B

KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan has inked $2.2 billion worth of contracts with China for exporting pine nuts in the next five years, an official said on Monday.

Hashmatullah Ghafoori, deputy minister for irrigation and natural resources, told a news conference in Kabul that the contracts have been inked with different Chinese firms for the eventual export of 62,000 tons of pine-nuts. He added this would fetch a much-needed $2.2 billion to Afghan farmers and traders in the said period.

Ghafoori also said that additional contracts, worth $9 million, have been inked for the export of pistachio, almond and walnuts.

As per the deal, the consignments of these products would be transported via land-route from Afghanistan through the Central Asian states to China.

Under President Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist, Afghanistan is pursuing a policy of turning the landlocked country into a hub for transition of goods as well as ideas in the region.

Beijing renders full support to Afghanistan in reinvigorating the glory of the ancient Silk Road and becoming a hub of regional transport and trade, Liu Jinsong, former ambassador of China to Afghanistan, told the local Tolo News.

China has proposed to join hands with Afghanistan in the Belt and Road Initiative by launching direct flights and cargo train services, exploring the possibility of cross-boundary railways and optical cables and extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan.

In March this year, the landmark Kabul Operation Center was launched to facilitate trade between the two countries, and raise annual bilateral trade to $2 billion by 2020.

China remains the largest foreign investor in Afghanistan with ventures in the mineral sector, construction and telecommunication.
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