In partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the EastWest Institute (EWI) will host a delegation of business leaders here from June 14 to 16 with the objective to promote political and economic cooperation between Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan and India.
EWI's President-elect Cameron Munter, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, will lead the delegation.
Discussions will build upon the conclusions of previous high-level consultations held by EWI in 2013-14, which addressed the region's need for reforms and cross-border cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and infrastructure.
The participants will include representatives from the private sector and parliamentarians from the region, who will meet and exchange recommendations with officials from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of External Affairs.
"The Afghanistan Reconnected Process is based on the conviction that security and economic development are interdependent. Afghanistan's future is indeed not only dependent on its own transformation, but also on reforms among and cooperation with its neighbors, which could unlock the economic potential of the region," EWI's Vice President for Regional Security, Martin Fleischer, said.
"EWI's Advocacy and Outreach Missions have the goal of fostering such a demand-driven reform process. India is a crucial partner in this process, from which Afghanistan, the countries of the region and particularly India could greatly benefit," Fleischer added.
Highlighting the importance of regional cooperation toward rebuilding Afghanistan, FICCI Joint Director General Ambika Sharma said: "We firmly believe that regional cooperation and integration are critical elements to the economic and social future of Afghanistan and its neighbours. Engaging the private sector in this process would act as a catalyst to create a new dynamism for peace and socioeconomic progress across the region and has the potential to serve as a game changer."
She added that FICCI has been working pro-actively with Afghanistan both bilaterally and multilaterally under the umbrella of SAARC and the Heart of Asia Process to harness Afghanistan's potential as a possible driver of economic growth in the region.
Since 2012, the Afghanistan Reconnected Process has addressed opportunities and challenges for economic growth in Afghanistan and the region. It convened high level representatives of governments, parliaments and the private sector from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, China, the U.A.E, the United States and Europe, as well as from regional and international organizations.
This mission is the second in a series of visits to capitals in Greater Central Asia that EWI is undertaking in 2015 as part of its Afghanistan Reconnected Process.