On June 18, 2017, the India Afghanistan air freight corridor became operational. This corridor is meant to facilitate trade in goods between the two countries. Cargo flights between the two countries will be using this corridor.
One of the unique features of this corridor is that it completely bypasses Pakistan.
A cargo flight from Delhi to Kabul carried 100 tonnes of cargo (mainly pharmaceuticals, water purifiers, medical equipment) on June 18, 2017, from Delhi to Kabul.
On the next day, the cargo flight of the Afghanistan-India air freight corridor carrying Afghan goods to India landed in New Delhi on June 19, 2017.
The Kabul to Delhi flight carried 60 tonnes of cargo (mainly ‘hing’) from Afghanistan.
The decision to establish an Air Freight Corridor between Afghanistan and India was taken in the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ashraf Ghani in September 2016 during the President Ghani’s visit to India.
During his visit to India in September 2016, President Ghani had urged Indian and Afghan businessmen to achieve a target of USD 10 billion in trade over the next five years.
- The connectivity established through the Air Freight Corridor will provide Afghanistan, a landlocked country, greater access to markets in India.
- It will also allow Afghan businessmen to leverage India’s economic growth and trade networks for its benefit.
- It would enable Afghan farmers quick and direct access to the Indian markets for their perishable produce.
- The connectivity will also help Indian goods to find an easy market in Afghanistan. Thus, it is certain to boost Indian exports.
- Indian manufactured goods have always found great acceptance in Afghanistan. It is expected that the corridor will, in the long run, support the Make in India program.
This corridor has added another chapter to the connectivity that has existed since times immemorial. The two countries now hope to extend air cargo flights to other cities between India and Afghanistan.
Other efforts to increase trade connectivity between the two nations
- Earlier, in January 2015, India had announced its decision to allow Afghan Trucks to enter the Indian Territory through Atari land check post for offloading and loading goods from and to Afghanistan.
- India is also cooperating with Afghanistan and Iran for development of the Chabahar Port.
- Later on, in May 2016, a trilateral transport and transit agreement based on sea access through Chabahar was signed in the presence of the leaders of the three countries in Tehran.
- These routes and corridors are aimed at providing sea, land and air access route for Afghanistan to regional and global markets in South Asia and beyond.
What gets traded between the two countries?
Currently major exports from India to Afghanistan are man-made filaments, articles of apparels and clothing accessories, pharmaceutical products, cereals, man-made staple fibres, tobacco products, dairy and poultry products, coffee/tea/meat and spices.
Major imports from Afghanistan to India are fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, raisins, vegetables, oil seeds, precious and semi-precious stones, etc.