Lapis Lazuli corridor a better alternative to Pakistan routes for transit of Afghanistan goods to Europe

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KABUL (TCA) — Officials from the Afghan Ministry of Industry and Commerce say the Lapis Lazuli transport corridor is low in cost and safer and closer compared with Pakistan’s Karachi port, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce said the Lapis Lazuli Corridor is a good alternative to the Karachi transit route to Europe.

The ministry said that with the arrival of the Afghan goods to Turkey, the ministry will discuss with member states on a fundamental solution to the problems faced by Afghan investors.

The Ministry said that based on their findings, the Lapis Lazuli Corridor is low in cost, safe and close compared with Karachi port for transit of Afghanistan’s goods to Europe.

According to the ministry, it takes less than 16 days for Afghanistan’s goods to reach Europe through the Lapis Lazuli route, while the same goods will take more than 20 days and with dozens of problems to reach Europe through Karachi port.

“The Afghan cargo received good support and cooperation by the member countries of the Lapis Lazuli,” said Mohammad Yahya Akhlaqi, head of transit department in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The International Chamber of Commerce and Industry said considering the past years’ problems with Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look for alternatives to the Pakistani transit routes.

“The Lapis Lazuli route has its own advantages and benefits. The Karachi route was a better and more secure way in the past, but unfortunately, the problems were emerged for Afghan investors who suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in losses,” said Abdul Qadir Bahman, CEO of the chamber.

The first shipment of the Afghan goods arrived in Turkey last Friday. Their last destination is Europe. It includes more than 175 tons of cotton, dried fruit and sesame.

The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was finalized after three years of talks and was signed during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VII) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

According to ACCI statistics, Afghanistan’s annual import volume from Europe and Turkey through Iran is $900 million but the country’s exports to European nations total $6 million a year.

The Lapis Lazuli corridor connects Afghanistan through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia to the Black Sea and ultimately through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. The Lapis Lazuli corridor is a historic corridor. Almost 2,000 years ago, lapis lazuli stone was exported from Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan through this route to Europe.

Sergey Kwan

TCA