CII Delegation Comes to Afghanistan

An 18-Member business delegation from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) came to Afghanistan on 16 - 18 March, 2013 to explore opportunities and possibilities for business and investment in Afghanistan.

The delegates sought their Afghan counterparts through a B2B matchmaking conference which was organized jointly by ACCI, FAIDA/USAID (Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan), Indian Embassy to Afghanistan and in collaboration of Afghanistan Builders Association (ABA) and Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA).

The delegation headed by Mr. Vinod Juneja, Managing Director of Braj Binani Group of Industries and comprised by some biggest Indian businesses such as Tata Sons Ltd, Afghanistan Container Transport Company (ACTCO), Akhandalamani Electricals & Construction, Ashok Leyland Ltd, Babur India Ltd, Escorts Ltd, IG International Pvt Ltd, IG International Pvt, Ltd, ITC Ltd, KEC International Ltd, Shivanditta Mal & Co, Tata Motors Ltd and WAPCOS Ltd.

Arrangement of this business delegation was done by CII in according the MoU between ACCI and CII which was signed by 28th January, 2013 at Agra, India. Based on the MoU, Both parties have agreed to work on mutual business and economic interests such as exchange all commercial and economic matters with regard to Afghanistan and India including specific sectors relevant to both the countries, exchange professional experiences relating to services rendered to their members facilitating development of mutually beneficial relationship, promote actively Indian investments/joint ventures in Afghanistan and exchange business development missions, support activities such as seminars, conferences and road shows by specialists in India by those sectors agreed upon between the  parties as well as to promote those events through its publicity media, work together in developing small and medium scale industries in Afghanistan, provide full cooperation to each other in the promotion of Trade Fairs and Exhibitions both in Afghanistan and India.

On 16th March, the visit started with inaugural welcome address by the Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr. Shri Gautam Mukhopadhyay, to the Indian delegation wherein he emphasized the strategic importance of promoting trade and investment in Afghanistan and encouraged the Indian business groups to come forward and participate in the economic growth of Afghanistan. He stressed that India aims to assist Afghanistan in making the transition from an 'aid-dependent' economy to a more 'self-reliant' and 'inter-dependent' economy as it prepares for the multiple political, security and economic transitions. He further reiterated that India’s push to promote private and public sector investment in Afghanistan is expected to set into motion a virtuous cycle of economic growth that will help counter the anxieties of transition.

After the welcome address by the Indian Ambassador, ACCI and AISA gave presentations on existing business environment in Afghanistan, trade and investment opportunities in varied sectors and incentives for promoting trade and investment in Afghanistan. In the evening, the dinner hosted by Indian Ambassador provided an opportunity to the delegates for informal interaction with leading Afghan officials and businessmen.

On March 17, the plenary meeting with Afghan industry organizations and FAIDA/USAID was followed by the B2B meetings with more than 150 Afghan business groups which assisted in forging vital business partnerships between the two countries. Several agreements/MoUs were discussed/signed between the business groups from both sides. The B2B meeting was attended by eminent personalities like Mr. Mahmood Karzai (President of AFCO International and brother of President Karzai), Mr. Abdul Hossain Faheem (Chairman of ACCI and brother of H. E. Qasim Fahim, First Vice-President ), Mr. Haji Nabi Khalili (President of Gholghola group and brother of H. E. Abdul Karim Khalili, Second Vice-President), Mr. Alokozay (First Vice-Chairman of ACCI), Mr. Fahim Hashimi (President of Hashimi group), Mr. Zaid Mohseni (CEO of Moby group) and several other leading Afghan businessmen. The B2B meeting also witnessed participation of several Afghan women entrepreneurs.

From Indian side, participation of Mr. Madhu Kannan, Group Head-Business Development of Tata Sons Ltd and his keen resolve to invest in Afghanistan was a healthy sign. He personally assured Mr. Nabi Khalili to assist him in getting Taj group license for his five star hotel (under construction) in Bamyan province. Binani group had fruitful discussions with several Afghan industrialists including Mr. Mahmood Karzai for investment in cement industry.

At the evening, ACCI hosted a dinner reception in honor of the delegation. The dinner was attended by seven key ministers such Minister of Commerce and Industries, Minister of Finance, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Minister of Mines, Minister of Economy, Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Minister of Telecommunication and Technology and also Governor of Da Afghanistan Bank (Central Bank). The Ministers assured the delegation of their full support for Indian investments in Afghanistan.

Additionally, some other high ranking officials such as Deputy Minister of Urban Development, Deputy Minister of Public Works, Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, CEO of AISA, CEO of Da Afghanistan Brashna Sherkat (Power Distributor in Afghanistan) and CEO of HARAKAT (Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility Organization) were present in the dinner.

The presence of several Afghan high ranking officials at the dinner reception highlights the goodwill for India and also their expectations from Indian business groups to invest in Afghanistan.

The informal interaction with several Afghan Ministers was informative and it boosted the confidence of Indian business delegation. The Indian Ambassador during his address once again stressed on India’s resolve to promote private and public sector investment in Afghanistan and contribution towards economic stability in the region.

The event was concluded with ACCI by presenting token of appreciation (a trophy) to Indian Ambassador for his extra-ordinary contribution in promoting the growth of private sector and business development between both the countries. ACCI also presented an apperception letter to Mr. Yadav, Indian Commercial Attaché for his efforts in arranging of the delegation travel to Afghanistan. Mutually, the delegates gave some gifts to Afghan ministers.