India, Afghanistan Launch Direct Air Cargo Links

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NEW DELHI – Afghanistan and India have launched direct air cargo services aimed at increasing their trade.

In a statement today, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said an Afghan flight carrying 60 tonnes of cargo arrived here yesterday, marking the launch of an air freight corridor between the two countries.

“The freighter was flagged off in Kabul by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and welcomed in Delhi by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, her junior minister M.J. Akbar, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Afghan Ambassador Shaida Abdali.

“The connectivity established through the air freight corridor will provide Afghanistan, a landlocked country, greater access to markets in India, and will allow Afghan businessmen to leverage India’s economic growth and trade networks for its benefit,” it said.

The flight from Kabul mainly carried “hing” (asafoetida), a commodity that has both cooking and medicinal use, it said.

It said a second flight from Afghanistan’s Kandahar city was expected to bring 40 tonnes of dried fruits to India.

“A cargo flight from Delhi to Kabul on Sunday carried 100 tonnes of goods such as pharmaceuticals, water purifiers and medical equipment,” it said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ghani decided to build air cargo links during the Afghan leader’s visit to India in September 2016.

Modi and Ghani are looking at an ambitious target of US$10 billion (US$1=RM4.28) in annual trade in five years. – BERNAMA