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Safety Concept signed to ensure security of Afghan section of TAPI

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have signed a safety concept agreement to ensure the security of the Afghan section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

According to Turkmenistan’s Trend news agency, the signing took place on April 15 during a meeting between representatives of the two countries.

The Safety Concept is an important step in the timely implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project, including the development of a Safety Plan and Protocol, which are annexes to the Host Government Agreement, the foreign ministry’s report said.

The parties exchanged views on the ongoing work on the TAPI gas pipeline construction project and they discussed the implementation of measures to be carried out by the end of August this year.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan in December 2015.

The length of the Turkmen section of the pipeline will be 205 kilometers in length and will pass through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar (816 kilometers), through the cities of Quetta and Multan across Pakistani territory (819 kilometers), and reach the city of Fazilka in India.

The pipeline’s design capacity is planned to be 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the project’s cost – about $8 billion, Trend reports.

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Cash-strapped government puts new projects on hold

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) has informed all government departments they need to cut back on budget spend, including that on planned development projects.

In an official notice to all government institutions, MoF has ordered them to stop projects where contracts have recently been signed, and which employ contract workers.

All planned development projects have also been put on hold.

The MoF said that due to the increase in spend for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), the increase in health spend and a drop in government income, all government departments need to cut expenditure.

“After the assessment of the development and general budgets by the cabinet, changes have been brought to the ministries and all government budgets because of the increase in ANDSF and health spending. Contracts from the… budget should be halted or suspended,” read the notice.

The MoF said that the government has lost $33 million in customs revenue since the Taliban seized five border crossings in the past month, amid rising violence in the country.

“Sher Khan port in Kunduz, Spin Boldak in Kandahar, Islam Qala in Herat, Abu Nasr Farahi in Farah and Torghundi in Herat have been captured by Taliban in the past month,“said Rafi Tabi, spokesman for the MoF.

Analysts have said the government should consider other steps to cut back on budget spend.

“In this situation, we can’t blame government, but it (government) should consider other options to prevent confusing the public,” said Sayed Massoud, a university lecturer.

This comes after the projected revenue generation for Afghanistan was expected to be 216 billion AFN ($2.7 billion) for the current solar year.

The total 452.6 billion AFN budget for this year did however carry a 37 billion AFN deficit – which government was to provide 20 billion AFN from internal resources and 17 billion AFN was pledged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to make up the difference.

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Afghan carpet industry facing major challenges: ACCI

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(Last Updated On: July 26, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said on Sunday that the Afghan carpet industry is facing numerous challenges despite the foreign aid that has been injected into the industry.

The ACCI said that the lack of a dedicated industrial park and a suitable place to produce carpets are a key challenge that they face.

Carpet makers also said that the drop in exports of Afghan carpets is a major problem.

Abdul Jabar Safi, head of the craftsmen association said despite millions of dollars having been spent and funding from USAID being received no dedicated industrial parks have been established in Andkhoy and Jalalabad – both carpet making hubs.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry meanwhile said efforts are being made to resume the traditional craft of carpet making in order to preserve the Afghan carpet industry’s uniqueness.

The ministry said that they have assisted carpet producers recently.

“It (new carpet industry) undermines the credibility of Afghan carpets. One good point of the Afghan carpet sector is that it provides 100,000 jobs for people especially for women,” said Fawad Ahmadi, spokesman for the ministry.

Analysts say that the carpet production industry will come to an end if government does not address the carpet producers’ challenges.

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US, Afghanistan, Pakistan Uzbekistan form platform for regional cooperation

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(Last Updated On: July 16, 2021)

The United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to form a new diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity, the US State Department said on Friday.

“The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing,” the Department said in a statement.

“Recognizing the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties,” the statement read.

The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus, the US said.

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