Afghanistan opens new trade route

December 16, 2018 - 10:1

TEHRAN - In a significant move that will spur trade and commerce in the war-torn country, Afghanistan has opened a new international trade route, known as Lapis Lazuli corridor.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the route at a ceremony in the western province of Herat earlier this week. The route is aimed at establishing direct access to Central Asia and Europe as Afghanistan seeks to build up an economy wrecked by decades of U.S.-imposed war.

For over 17 years Afghanistan was in isolation, today Afghanistan is connected with its neighbors and beyond, Ghani said at the ceremony, which saw the first trucks set off with dried fruit, herbs and textiles bound for Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.

The corridor is the latest in a series of energy and transport projects aimed at opening Afghanistan up as a hub at the heart of Central Asia.

The new corridor which includes stretches or road, rail, and maritime routes runs from Afghanistan to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia before crossing the Black Sea to Turkey and eventually Europe.

Ghani-led government in Kabul has been trying to reduce land-locked Afghanistan's dependence on its estranged Pakistan, with which it has long had complicated relations.

Last month, Afghanistan inaugurated an air cargo service to China by sending 20 tons of pine nuts. It has a similar cargo link with India.