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Ghani aims to turn Asia the largest continental economy with strategic railroad

By Ghanizada - Fri Mar 27 2015, 12:52 pm

Ashraf Ghani Afghan President

The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani aims to turn Asia as the largest continental economy with the planned multibillion-dollar railroad amid persistent instability in the country.

Outlining the plans regarding the strategic railroad, President Ghani, said the plans are to remake the war-torn Afghanistan’s economy by relying on its traditional geographic advantage as the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

“In 25 years, Asia is going to become the largest continental economy. What happened in the United States in 1869, when the continental railroad integrated, is very likely to happen in Asia in the next 25 years,” said Ghani. “Without Afghanistan, Central Asia, South Central Asia, East Asia and West Asia will not be connected,” President Ghani said.

His remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York think tank, were followed after he secured a commitment from President Barack Obama on Tuesday to keep more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

He said the planned railroad could allow goods to reach Europe in five days, via the Caspian Sea, while insisting that his goal was turn Afghanistan into a transit country.

The planned railroad will have a length of 2,237 miles and is expected to eventually become linked to China, besides allowing Afghanistan to transport its wealth of mineral deposits, including lithium, copper and gas and oil reserves, which the Pentagon estimated was worth roughly $1 trillion in 2010.

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According to President Ghani Afghanistan the potential to supply transport, power transmission, gas pipelines and fiber optics, which would create “massive jobs and opportunity”.

According to President Ghani the railroad could play a vital role as Afghanistan could be the largest producer of copper and iron in the world in 10 years and the bulk of what Afghanistan would produce in the next 10 years would be very heavy and “Without rail, there are no possibilities of creating economies of scale.”

President Ghani also added that the project will be funded by World Bank, the Asian Development and Pakistan, and about 90 percent of the funding is secure.

In the meantime, there are concerns that the planned economic project could leave the United States with diminishing influence, even as US being the costs of the country including the security, being a strategic partner of Afghanistan.

However, President Ghani didn’t mention the US as an economic partner and his main focus floated on India, the Gulf countries, Azerbaijan, even its prickly neighbor Pakistan as potential investors.

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