by Abdul Haleem
KABUL, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Afghanistan's participation in the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) will further enhance Sino-Afghan relations, especially in the field of trade and economic cooperation, Afghan senior officials have said.
Musafer Qoqandi, the Afghan Commerce Ministry's spokesman, told Xinhua that Afghanistan attaches great importance to its participation in the expo, adding that a high ranking delegation would represent his country at the event.
Over 2,800 companies from around 130 countries and regions have confirmed their attendance at the CIIE slated for Nov. 5-10 in Shanghai.
The spokesman added that Afghanistan has secured a 136-square-meter area at the CIIE to display its products in search of markets. "Afghan products including carpet, saffron, handicrafts, fresh and dry fruits, precious and semi-precious stones will be put on display at the CIIE," he said.
Describing China as a lucrative market for Afghan products, the official added that Afghanistan, besides exporting saffron and pine nut, will export millions of cubic meters of marble to China annually, saying an agreement of the sort is soon expected to be finalized.
"Afghanistan and China are two good neighbors enjoying friendly relations," Qoqandi said, adding that participation at such an international exhibition would further enhance relations between the two sides.
Pasarlay Ahmadzai, a senior official of Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, agreed that Afghanistan's participation in the CIIE would bolster Sino-Afghan trade relations.
Afghan participants, especially businesspersons, could learn from China's national and economic development, said Ahmadzai.
Ahmadzai also expressed gratitude to China for extending an invitation to Afghanistan, expressing hope that Afghan companies could win trade contracts with companies from China and around the globe.
The official described China as a friend of Afghanistan, saying China's efforts in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan are clear to every Afghan.
The bilateral trade volume between Afghanistan and China in 2017 amounted to 544 million U.S. dollars, up 24.9 percent year-on-year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Moreover, the total value of China-contracted projects in Afghanistan by the end of 2017 stood at 1.28 billion dollars. The contracts mainly focus on infrastructure, including telecommunications, transmission and distribution lines, as well as road and housing construction, according to the ministry.