The 7th edition of the India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show in New Delhi is likely to see the highest participation since its inception in 2014. A senior US official told Republic that more than 250 Afghan vendors including those from the social sector and more than 800 Indian companies have registered for the event. The three day event which begins on 27th September will be inaugurated by the Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The event is being supported by US Agency for International Development. Its main aim is to boost private sector investment in Afghanistan. India has long been one of the leading partners of Afghanistan in its reconstruction and its development assistance stands at two billion dollars.
Afghanistan's eagerness to push private investment can be judged by the fact that its Chief Executive is being accompanied by a high powered delegation of 14 top government officials including ministers of education, finance, foreign affairs and finance. Out of 250 Afghan vendors, a 100 would be showcasing carpets, gems, marble, dry fruits and saffron and the others would be looking for opportunities in the social sector.
Speaking to Republic a senior US official said, "We have had other trade shows in the past with an Afghan focus but, this one will expand on social sector including healthcare, education and clean energy". While the official appreciated India's role in rebuilding Afghanistan they did hope there could be greater investments in the social sector and opportunities for young Afghan entrepreneurs. The official confirmed that USAID plans to take this trade show to Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru in the coming months.
India's former envoy to Afghanistan, Amar Sinha urged Indian companies to look at fresh opportunities in the neighbouring country. Speaking to Republic Sinha said, "I am happy this B to B meet is being organized in Delhi. This is in line with India would like to achieve in terms of kick-starting the Afghan economy. Greater economic development will also reduce 'catchment area' for Taliban and other terror groups thus having an overall positive effect on security".
The Afghan Chief Executive will also hold talks with senior ministers in the Indian government just a day after US Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman concluded a high level meeting. Top sources told Republic that the two leaders spent a large amount of time discussing the security situation in Afghanistan, training of Afghan forces and the country's infrastructure needs.