BRI and Its Impacts on Afghanistan Economy

BRI and Its Impacts on Afghanistan Economy

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At present, China seems to be the one core state that is seriously struggling to engage with the Taliban government. The U.S presence in Afghanistan was a severe challenge for China to engage with previous governments. Due to the power vacuum and its economic objectives, it would link with Afghanistan through BRI. Taliban have already requested China to assist in the economic domain.

BRI and Afghanistan Image © The Radical Outlook

By Samiullah Safi

©The Radical Outlook

On August 15 Taliban swept the Afghan capital, the United States and its allies began pullouts from Kabul abruptly. The western has decided to shut down their embassies in Kabul, but China decided to keep its embassy open and called it for cordial diplomatic ties with the Taliban. Chinese state foreign minister and councilor met with Taliban delegations in late July in china to deliberate the challenges and reconstructions process in Afghanistan. During the meeting, the Taliban has pledged not to support Uyghur separatists who were likely to create instability in Xinjiang province.  China has a firm strategy that it does not intervene in internal affairs abroad and expects other states to pursue the same policy towards China.  Beijing and the Taliban will likely strengthen their diplomatic ties on the same basis. Cordial between states will strengthen economic integration; China is set to extend the BRI project to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is in a dire situation; post US pullouts from Afghanistan, the IMF and World Bank halted the financial assistance to the Taliban after the Kabul takeover. Still, the country has the untapped potential of natural resources that should not be taken for granted. Afghanistan is a big state with a population; it is more significant than Canada and a territory larger than Japan and France.

At present, China seems to be the one core state that is seriously struggling to engage with the Taliban government. The U.S presence in Afghanistan was a severe challenge for China to engage with previous governments. Due to the power vacuum and its economic objectives, it would link with Afghanistan through BRI. Taliban have already requested China to assist in the economic domain. The country’s vast natural resources, including one of the world’s largest unexploited reserves of Iron ore, copper, gas, cobalt mercury, gold, and lithium, represent the future mounting economy of the state. These have to be exploited to boost the country’s economy.

The western states are looming regarding China’s policy towards the Taliban regime; indeed, it reflects Chinas Real-politics and its core national interests for the success of the Belt and Road Initiative. The new relation between China and the Afghan Taliban may hasten China’s economic links in the region with infrastructure and construction. Still, without profound evolutions, the Taliban will not likely be capable of availing the opportunity of “soft BRI,” including programs varying from health to education. However, the BRI is one of the constructive opportunities for Taliban fundamentalism.

Afghanistan will get huge benefits from BRI. Firstly, the country’s dire and urgent need is to build infrastructure, roads, bridges, railways, and power plants. To reconstruct all these, the country needs a massive amount of investment. Looking to the current uncertain situation, Afghanistan can’t attract private capital from the Western states that concentrate on short-term returns. But BRI would be comprehensive and cover fundamental needs of Afghanistan from technology to social being.  

Due to the continuity of war, Afghanistan is one of the poorest states in the world that is dependent on international financial assistance. The country’s GDP was raised at just 19.8 billion dollars in 2020, with over 43 percent foreign aid. Nearly half of the state’s labor force works in agriculture without technology. Further, the country’s infrastructure is overwhelmed by power deficiencies, wrecked roads, and widespread bridges all over the state. According to the World Bank Business survey, Afghanistan was ranked 173rd of 193 countries regarding the business environment. The country needs urgent financial stability. In the crucial situation, only China would assist Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is in a dire situation; post US pullouts from Afghanistan, the IMF and World Bank halted the financial assistance to the Taliban after the Kabul takeover. Still, the country has the untapped potential of natural resources that should not be taken for granted. Afghanistan is a big state with a population; it is more significant than Canada and a territory larger than Japan and France. The country possesses rich minerals natural resources; it is estimated that it is sitting on mineral resources worth between 1 trillion to 3 trillion dollars. Much of the resources are still not explored.

Furthermore, Afghanistan has a significant strategic location; it is linked with central and south Asia. It has connected with the fast-growing world economies like China. These are immense leverages for Afghanistan to avail for economic and social development to lead the country to meaningful change for ordinary Afghans. Taliban have reached power after twenty years; in today’s circumstances, the Taliban regime faces many challenges, particularly in economic sectors. If The Taliban are desirous of restoring Afghanistan, then joining BRI is one of the most effective pathways for getting substantial objectives. Afghanistan has no substantial alternative to improve its state, develop local industries, and join regional and global development. 

Though, BRI cooperation needs a peaceful and secure environment and requires political mutual trust among the states. By all means, still, there are two front challenges for China: political instability in Afghanistan can affect the mega project and anti-China Western government, who would try to sabotage the BRI.

Afghanistan will get huge benefits from BRI. Firstly, the country’s dire and urgent need is to build infrastructure, roads, bridges, railways, and power plants. To reconstruct all these, the country needs a massive amount of investment. Looking to the current uncertain situation, Afghanistan can’t attract private capital from the Western states that concentrate on short-term returns. But BRI would be comprehensive and cover fundamental needs of Afghanistan from technology to social being.  Opponents of the China mega project claim that BRI is a debt trap, but the project is financing structure for projects is the only effective foundation for rebuilding and infrastructure in the third world countries; otherwise, no other projects can fulfill a huge infrastructure gap in a limited short economic.  

Secondly, Afghanistan needs economic maintenance to achieve sustainable development. BRI would upsurge the local industries, including infrastructure, manufacturing, articulate, and so on. The BRI project will explore the untapped resources of Afghanistan; the country has the greatest potential of natural resources such as mining, energy, and agriculture in a mutual useful for economic development.  

Though, BRI cooperation needs a peaceful and secure environment and requires political mutual trust among the states. By all means, still, there are two front challenges for China: political instability in Afghanistan can affect the mega project and anti-China Western government, who would try to sabotage the BRI.

More interestingly, enhancing the BRI to Afghanistan would bring them into the main economic growth corridor with a significant increase in the flow of the economy, services, and people. BRI will assist in creating the necessary perspective for the Taliban and citizens of Afghanistan, in finding the best pathway for providing the platform for connecting the war-torn state into the mainstream of commerce and play a Vitol role as a viable part in the fundamental economy of the country.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect our Editorial Policy


Author

Mr. Samiullah Safi is a Mphil Candidate of the IR Department at the Comsats University, Islamabad.


Republishing is allowed with a copyright credit to © The Radical Outlook

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The Radical Outlook is an online news web Portal designed for in-depth news analysis from the Eurasian region and beyond. It is Founded by a geopolitical analyst Shahzada Rahim.
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