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India and Afghanistan to restart trade under new air corridor arrangement

File photo of Hyderabad airport providing cargo services (Photo: IANS)

The Afghan Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) said that it has signed a new Air Corridor Agreement with India to enable air trade between the two countries.

Trade between the two South Asian neighbours had come to a standstill after the Taliban fighters took over Afghanistan in August 2021 following withdrawal by the American and NATO troops.

Afghan news agency Ariana News quoted MoIC spokesperson Abdul Salam Jawad as saying that export of “Afghanistan’s commercial commodities to India continues through Wagah port and that in the past year, the country has exported more than 14 billion afghanis via the port”. India is a big importer of saffron, dry fruits and asafoetida.

Jawad added that cargo flights between Afghanistan and India will increase exports of fresh and dry fruits, handicrafts and other commercial items, giving a boost to the Afghan economy.

Before the Taliban takeover, the two countries carried out trade through two air routes – Kabul-Delhi and also Kabul-Mumbai. The second route had been opened only in December 2017 for India to import fresh fruits and medicinal plants from Afghanistan. This was started after observing the success of the Kabul-Delhi route inaugurated by then Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in June-2017.

The cash-strapped Taliban government remains a pariah with international governments due to its resistance to include minorities and women in governance.

India has not accorded recognition to the Taliban government but has been providing humanitarian assistance in the form of food, vaccines and medicines. India has been routing its wheat through Pakistan and has also sent aid during natural calamities.

Also Read: India delivers 13th batch of medical assistance to Afghanistan