KABUL: China has signed an agreement to purchase pine nuts worth $2 billion from Afghanistan, a major business move by Beijing which has been expanding its investment and trade efforts in the neighboring country, Afghan officials said.
Afghanistan exported 23,000 tons to China last year and — on the basis of a deal signed in Beijing last week — is expected to increase the amount to more than 62,000 in the next five years.
“This is an important step, it means we have found a foot in one of the world’s markets that is important and does trade in hundreds of billions dollars,” Jan Aqa Naveed, public affairs director of Afghanistan’s Chambers of Commerce, told Arab News.“It is good for our economy, means we will have a flow of foreign currency, and it will boost the economy of farmers, growers and businessmen here,” he said.
Afghanistan will be also sending dry fruits worth $200 million during the same period, Akbar Rustami, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, said.
The rise in exports of pine nuts has increased prices in Kabul’s markets. In 2017, one kilo sold for nearly $20 dollars but the same amount now commands $50.
High demand for the fruit in other parts of the world such as UAE and India has also prompted the ministry of agriculture to increase cultivation.
China is Afghanistan’s major foreign investor and has been engaged in multibillion-dollar projects for the extraction of copper and oil in the country.
Despite the long Afghan war, China sees the country as a bridge to the Indian sub-continent and Iran and plans to host an intra-Afghan dialogue for finding a peaceful settlement to the US-led conflict that has entered its 19th year.
Taj Mohammad Ahmadzada, an analyst, said that the signing of the agreements with China shows Bejing’s growing interest in Afghanistan, which has rich untapped minerals and resources.