Uzbek media reports say Uzbekistan has offered Afghanistan establishment of the regime of free trade that is to exempt Afghan goods from customs duties.

This issue was reportedly discussed at a meeting with the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that took place at the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan in Tashkent on July 17.  

The website of the Ministry of Foreign Trade says the sides, in particular, discussed state and prospects of further expansion of economic cooperation between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, rehabilitation of textile industry in Afghanistan and training of personnel for Afghanistan.  

In the course of the talks, the Uzbek side proposed to involve Afghan investors on the principle of public-private partnership and organize a cross-border trade.

The parties reportedly discussed the possibility of organizing the cross-border trade at Termez Cargo Center with creating simplified foreign currency control, visa, tax and customs regimes.    

In addition, the Uzbek side suggested to begin work on establishing a free trade regime between the countries.

Citing an official at the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Uzbek media reports say the parties are currently drafting the deal, which provides for the exemption of Afghan goods from customs duties. 

Uzbekistan reportedly attaches significant importance to the development of Afghanistan and considers it as the integral part of the Central Asian region.  Afghanistan’s sustainable development is a guarantee of stability and prosperity for the entire region. 

In recent years, there has been an upward trend in the two-way trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. 

The two-way trade between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan reportedly rose 19 percent in a year to December 31, 2017, reaching 617.1 million U.S dollars.   

The first round of dialogue between representatives of public and private sectors of the two countries took place in the Uzbek city Termez last month and this format of meetings reportedly turned out to be very productive.

Uzbekistan has been supplying electricity to Afghanistan since 2002 on the basis of annual direct contracts. If in 2002, the supply volume was only 62 million kW/h of electricity, in 2018, a contract that has been signed this year provides for the supply of approximately two billion kWh of electricity to Afghanistan.

Some Uzbek media outlets say that the one of the main objectives is to connect Afghanistan to the Central Asia’s unified power grid.  This will be achieved through the construction of Surkhan-Puli-Khumri power transmission line.

During Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Tashkent in December last year, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan signed more than 40 cooperation documents.