Officials from Uzbekistan said the first phase of the free trade zone complex on the border between Afghanistan and its northern neighbor has been completed and shops are now being distributed to traders from both countries.
According to the officials, the final phase of the complex will be finished by next year.
“This plan was created to expand business relations and create jobs for Afghans and the people of Uzbekistan. In this market, along with Uzbek traders, Afghan traders and entrepreneurs can also start their work and activities. We are committed to completing the remaining parts of this market soon,” said the deputy head of the Afghan-Uzbek trade zone.
He said once complete, the complex will have 4,000 shops, health centers, guesthouses and restaurants where citizens of both countries can shop for ten days without a visa.
“More than four thousand shops, health centers, restaurants and guesthouses will be built in this market. Afghan citizens can shop in this market for ten days without needing a visa.”
Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Investment officials and traders say that the establishment of this market can provide a platform to showcase the country’s domestic products and expand the economic activities of traders.
“As a country on the verge of economic growth, the demand of Afghans is to create facilities and charge less rent so that they can get better benefits at first,” said Asadullah Asadi, head of Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Investment.
“If the common market is activated and our traders and businessmen open shops there and our handicrafts and national products go there, it will be a very good market for us,” said Haji Qalandar, an Afghan trader.
In August last year, Balkh provincial officials said plans were underway to establish the trade zone – which would be situated along the border area of Balkh province and Surkhandarya province of Uzbekistan.
Officials said 120 acres of land would be utilized and the cost would be $75 million.—Ariana news