“New Silk Road” vision of increased regional economic cooperation in this area of the world is ambitious but realistic.
The United States and India share a commitment to regional economic cooperation that promotes long term trade and transit development, private sector engagement and sustainable economic security between South and Central Asia.
This “New Silk Road” vision of increased regional economic cooperation in this area of the world is ambitious but realistic, supported by geological surveys and trade route analysis demonstrating there is huge potential for private investment throughout a more connected economic region.
At the core of this vision, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake, “is a stable Afghanistan firmly embedded in the economic life of the region.” These types of linkages will help maximize the value of the area’s abundant natural resources and human capacity while creating jobs and economic growth and provide increasing economic opportunity and hope for its citizens.
The countries of the region have embraced this vision, which places Afghanistan at the heart of a rejuvenated network of commerce, communications and energy transmission; a land bridge connecting the Middle East and Central Asia to markets in China, India, and Southeast Asia.
The U.S. supports the role that India has played in Afghanistan’s economic development. Since 2001, India has provided approximately $2 billion for Afghanistan’s development, including roads, power lines, hydro-electric dams, capacity-building, and vocational training.
India and Afghanistan signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in October 2011, and an Indian consortium has secured the right to negotiate a concession to the lucrative Hajigak iron ore mine in Bamiyan province, estimated to contain 1.8 billion tons of high-quality minerals. India will also play a critical role in the development of the planned Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) pipeline, which will connect abundant energy reserves in Turkmenistan with rising demand for that energy in South Asia.
More than ever, Afghanistan’s future depends on critical regional partners like India to help make the New Silk Road vision a reality. The U.S. will continue to work with regional partners like India to encourage them to play a positive role in the future of Afghanistan.