CPEC extension to Afghanistan will boost exports, say analysts

BEIJING: As officials from China, Pakistan and Afghanistan revealed an inclination to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project into Afghanistan, experts said that such projects could help boost Afghanistan’s exports, which is conducive to the country’s journey of peace, but the feasibility of the project depends on whether the Afghan government and Taliban forces can reach a consensus on protecting overseas investment.
Although no concrete progress has occurred when it comes to the project, it seemed that the political leaders of the countries involved in the project all expressed a supportive attitude toward China’s investment in Afghanistan, according to Global Times on Wednesday.
A government official and deputy spokesperson for the president of Afghanistan told media recently that the country’s president had “instructed authorities to facilitate necessary cooperation” in certain areas between China and Afghanistan. She made the comments as a number of Chinese firms were reportedly poised to pump $400 million into a coal-fired electricity generation project in the war-ravaged nation. On the other side, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a recent interview with the South China Morning Post that they “welcome” China’s assistance in reconstruction and development of Afghanistan with the departure of US troops, calling China “a friend to Afghanistan.”
Among such cooperation, the potential extension of CPEC seems to be the one project that has caught the most attention globally, particularly after the US withdrew military forces from Afghanistan and demands surged for reconstructing the country. Previously, the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan held a dialogue in September 2019. They agreed then that the three countries should increase mutual connectivity and push the extension of CPEC to Afghanistan, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi disclosed.
Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, said that if the CPEC is extended into Afghanistan, China could help build or improve infrastructure between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate their economic exchange.
One project he particularly mentioned is the highway between Peshawar and Kabul, which he said is being built but is not qualified and wide enough for transport. “China can help build bypasses to that road, as well as expanding relevant customs to make the connectivity between Afghanistan and Pakistan smoother,” Zhou told the Global Times.
– The Daily Mail-Global Times News exchange item