Karzai seeks more Indian investment in Afghanistan

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Afghan president Hamid Karzai Tuesday called for Indian investment in critical sectors such as healthcare, telecom, agri-business and capacity building.

In an interaction with a group of company chief executives, Karzai spoke about emerging business opportunities in Afghanistan and asked the Indians to benefit from a business friendly regime and investment climate.

On a three-day visit, Karzai is set to hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee during which he is expected to ask for more economic and security assistance ahead of the withdrawal of Nato-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

In November, New Delhi signed mining and development deals and pledged $2 billion in assistance to Kabul.

Two years ago, the two countries signed a strategic agreement. A number of Afghan army officers are being trained at Indian institutions.

At a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised meeting, Karzai apprised the Indian industry of international export potential for Afghan agricultural product.

He invited Indian companies to import dry fruits and fruits as India was a big market for Afghanistan.

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhaya and Afghan ambassador to India Shaida M. Abdali were present at the meeting.

Agriculture is a priority sector in Afghanistan. Besides providing the basic means of livelihood to 85 percent of the population, it generates 36 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Karzai also spoke on the increased scope and collaboration in new farming techniques, setting food processing units and agriculture machinery for improved agriculture produce in Afghanistan.

Rakesh Bharti Mittal, chairman, CII Development Initiatives Council, and managing director of Bharti Enterprises highlighted the potential for collaboration in farming techniques and food processing.

Karzai invited Indian hospitals to set up facilities in Afghanistan. He said Afghan patients, especially cardiac patients, have to travel to India for medical treatment.

Malvinder Mohan Singh, chairman of CII Services Council and executive chairman of Fortis Healthcare, briefed Karzai on the facilities offered by Indian hospitals.

He offered to set up similar facilities in Afghanistan, enhance capacity for Afghan doctors and talent building in view of the shortage of trained doctors, practitioners and nurses in that country.

CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee told Karzai about the business association’s future plans in promoting Indian investment in Afghanistan through sending sectoral delegations, organising Investment promotion road shows and setting up an India-Afghan CEOs Forum for promoting investment and trade relations.

Sudhir Kapur, CEO, Country Strategy Business Consultant Pvt Ltd, highlighted the opportunities in soft skills and vocational training and building institutions specific to the need of Afghanistan.

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