Afghanistan inaugurates first track of Lapis Lazuli project

Thu 13 Dec 2018 15:31 GMT | 19:31 Local Time

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Lapis Lazuli transit route is set to emerge as an economic corridor for an inclusive development by which Afghanistan could connect to Europe via Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, according to The Economic Times.

The first track of Lapis Lazuli project was inaugurated by President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in Herat, Afghanistanç according to AzerTag. The first shipment of Afghan products which include more than 175 tons of cotton, dried fruit and sesame will be exported through the route within the frame of TIR Carnet.

The trans-regional corridor will encompass mainly railways and highways, which will connect the city of Torghundi in the Afghan province of Herat with the port of Turkmenbashi on the shore of the Caspian Sea via Ashgabat. On the sidelines of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA- VII), the Lapis Lazuli Agreement was signed in November 2017 aiming to establish greater connectivity for enhancing trade in the RECCA region. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor will connect with Turkey’s Middle Corridor Project and will also complement other regional transport corridors such as the Five Nations Railway Corridor. The corridor has the potential to transform trade and transit dynamics in the region that would open up opportunities for development and mutual cooperation.

The Lapis Lazuli corridor aims to create an easy route starting from Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. Crossing the Caspian Sea will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe. The Lapis Lazuli corridor is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The cost of the project is estimated to exceed $2 billion.

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