Brussels Conference on Afghanistan Regional Economic Cooperation Side Event

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Regional Economic Cooperation Side Event

October 2016

 

In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful

H.E Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Excellences, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

You have arrived at the conclusion of the Economic Cooperation and Integration within our Region session, a key event in the right time in its perspective and its approach to regional economic cooperation.

I take this opportunity to thank all partners’ participation at today’s event, and express my sincere appreciation for your inputs and valuable contributions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our dream is to have an Afghanistan that is peaceful, prosperous, friendly and cooperative to our neighbors, the region and to the world. But, this dream cannot come true without cooperation and integration of our efforts. That is why regional cooperation remains at the heart of our Peace and Development Framework as one of the main drivers of growth, which will be presented to our Development Partners in this Conference.

It has been proven time and again that Afghanistan’s geostrategic location has played and still has the potential to play a significant role in bridging Central South Asia all the way to Caucuses and Europe, offering us the opportunity to enhance economic integration, boost economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty within our mostly landlocked geography. In fact, we think of regional connectivity as a win-win game for Afghanistan and the region, and the focus needs to be, not on the short-term gains, but on long-term prosperity.

Dear Friends!

Undoubtedly, regional cooperation will allow us to increase trade among our states, which in turn will improve economic growth through expansion of markets for goods and services, enhance competition among industries, enrich product diversification, reduce prices and improve quality of consumer goods and services.

Economic cooperation among our states will incentivize and boost private and cross-border investments with huge spillover effects, and facilitates the transfer of technology and know-how within the region. It will also enable us to transfer energy from Central Asia with huge export potentials to South Asia with great demand. Most important of all, we believe that outcomes of the regional projects have direct links with peace and prosperity in our region and beyond.

Distinguished Delegates!

Despite the challenges, we have come a long way and the key for us is to keep the momentum going.

Our Regional Cooperation platforms through Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (or RECCA) and Heart of Asia Istanbul Process present a positive, realistic vision of a secure, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan, integrated in a secure, stable, and prosperous region.

Ensuring that these momentums are supported by the Brussels Conference as well as coordinated with strategies agreed through SAARC, CAREC, ECO, SCO, UNSPECA, TRACECA and other regional forums are an essential part of our priority plans. Afghanistan is actively involved in the existing regional forums that try to improve regional connectivity.

Now that Afghanistan is a WTO member, the National Unity Government remains steadfast in its efforts to further improve its trade policy, which will facilitate more cross-border trade and transit. Our investment in the infrastructure sector will continue, and we will waste no time in developing our institutional capacity both within the public and private sectors.

I would like to take this opportunity and express Afghanistan’s appreciation to Turkmenistan for hosting the next round of RECCA to be held in Ashgabat, and to the Turkish government to taking the lead on organizing the RECCA Business Forum next month in Istanbul.  Beside that, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Government of India for hosting the next Heart of Asia Istanbul Process ministerial meeting, which will be held in Amritsar on 4th December 2016.

As part of our plan to support regional connectivity, we will complete the existing road and railway projects that link us to vital centers; invest in networks of dry ports and logistics facilities; continue investing in regional energy projects such as CASA-1000, TAPI, and TAP-500 KV transmission line; introduce our new multilateral efforts to connect markets to seaports, such as the Lapis Lazuli Route and the Chabahar Corridor; work on benefit-sharing mechanisms to generate energy for the region; and encourage investment in the digital connectivity and fiber optic networks.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

In addition to promoting trade facilitation, we all know that the region suffers from large infrastructure deficit, which is a key factor for growth, requiring billions of dollars in investment. Therefore the importance of having a platform such as the CAREC, to facilitate practical and results-oriented regional projects and mobilize financial resources to fund them, will be absolutely vital.

Although infrastructure is an essential factor for growth, it is not the only one. We need to do everything possible to build inclusive institutions, reform and integrate our financial market, improve the socio-economic conditions of our people, and develop a vibrant and competitive private sector to take full advantage of regional integration.

This side event has provided us a platform to present our priorities in the infrastructure sector. We look forward to having a constructive dialogue with you on these priorities, and come to a successful conclusion.

 

Thank you!