Indian-Afghan trade show gets underway in New Delhi

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets Indian PM Narendra Modi
Photo: Outlook India
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets Indian PM Narendra Modi
Photo: Outlook India

Today marks the beginning of a three day India-Afghanistan trade show in New Delhi, where government and business officials will meet to discuss expanding economic cooperation and trade.

The show is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development as part of its ongoing effort to rebuild Afghanistan’s economy. Persistent economic problems —including 10% unemployment and 35% of citizens living under the poverty line — have pushed many disenfranchised Afghanis to join the Taliban and various criminal enterprises.

For India, building a strong Afghani economy prevents it from falling prey to influence by New Delhi’s regional rival, Pakistan. Afghanistan’s 5th largest donor, India has poured $2 billion in aid into the country since 2001 and invested $100 million to finance the construction of the Shahtoot Dam. The two countries opened direct flights in June, creating an Indian trade route to Central Asia that circumvents Pakistan’s ban on many Indian products.

Given their shared interests and American backing, we can expect a plethora of business deals to be struck at today’s summit. Nevertheless, with the power of the Taliban continuing to grow, India’s nation-building efforts will likely be for naught.

Delve deeper: Cold War echoes: Russians in Afghanistan

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