Afghanistan is ripe and ready for investments from India and offers lots of opportunities for Indian industry, said Hamid Karzai, President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at a business session jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) , FICCI and Assocham.
“Indian business need not be shy. We did like to invite you on a red carpet, but you need to arrive at the red carpet to take advantage of those opportunities,” Karzai said.
Cautioning about the strong and rising competition in Afghanistan, Karzai said those who came in the past few years like a telecom company with $5 million investment has now become $600-700 million and this applies to other sectors as well.
“You need not worry about your investments. Not only will Afghan law protect you, but also Afghan people will add to your profits,” Karzai said assuring Indian industry of all help.
Appreciating India’s aid of $2 billion, despite not being a dollar economy, Karzai said, “Afghanistan’s forex reserves including gold have risen to $7 billion now from $180 million in 2002.” He also spoke about the rich mineral resources in the country and said that already an Indian conglomerate is in talks for an iron ore mine and hoped a contract will be signed shortly.
Terming Karzai’s visit to India as home-coming since he had completed his post-graduation studies at Shimla, Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce & Industry said, “We can easily reach $1 billion (of trade) within next three years.” The bilateral trade between the two countries was over $600 million last year, Sharma said.
Expressing India’s commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation by being a true partner, Sharma said, “Afghanistan has the potential to absorb much more than the committed $16 billion of global development assistance in this decade.” Drawing a parallel between the Afghan and Indian economy and the need to grow at over 8%, Sharma said, “We have no choice or option, but an imperative dimension to create employment for 12 million new jobs.”