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Chinese company seeking railway revival to invest in Afghan marble sector

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-21 11:12

KABUL - The landlocked Afghanistan, according to officials, is rich with untapped treasures, precious and semi-precious minerals, that can rebuild and take the country towards prosperity if extracted and utilized properly.

One of the almost untapped natural treasures in Afghanistan is marble that has been extracted, mostly with poor machinery in parts of the country.

A delegation of Qin Gen Industrial Company of China, headed by deputy general manager Li Yingjun, has met officials with Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and a number of businessmen and emphasized on joint efforts to enhance cooperation on infrastructures including railway connectivity and trade under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Expressing interest in investment in Afghan minerals extraction, Li said the company wants to invest in marble filed and its import.

"The two countries' leaders have agreed on mining of up to 42 types of Afghan marbles, quality production and export to China," Li told Xinhua.

However, he emphasized for boosting railway connectivity between Afghanistan and China to accelerate trade and economic relations between the two neighbors.

The first-ever cargo train from China arrived in Afghanistan's northern border town Hairatan in September 2016 after crossing several central Asian states and the initiative has been widely welcomed by Afghans as a step towards Sino-Afghan railway connectivity.

Nonetheless, the cargo train movement has been paused reportedly due to problems including high transit taxes in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan as well as in Hairatan.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Zia Azizi, director of the international relation section of the ACCI, said the problems would soon be addressed in the next meeting of the three countries' authorities.

To enhance railway connectivity and realize the dream of boosting bilateral trade relations, China and Afghanistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June this year in Beijing.

"Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has asked China for quality extraction of his country's 42 types of the world second and third-grade marbles and their export to China, we wanted to speak about the ways of how could develop it through a joint Afghan-China dialogue," Li added.

According to the ACCI, there are 63 marble factories in Afghanistan, producing and processing up to 100 to 1,000 tons each month, with roughly six colors.

"More than 20 other Chinese companies are also ready to join us in investment for extraction and international standard production of the world's second and third-grade Afghan marbles," said the Chinese businessman.

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