On 25 July, senior officials, academics, and businesses from the UK, China, and Afghanistan met in Beijing to discuss opportunities and challenges around infrastructure development in Afghanistan.
Topics included Afghanistan’s National Infrastructure Plan, financing of infrastructure projects and a discussion on the current security situation in the country and how it affects infrastructure development. Participants were united in their condemnation of the terrible bombing in Kabul the day before.
British Ambassador to China Dame Barbara Woodward delivered a keynote address. Speaking after the event the Ambassador said:
Afghanistan faces infrastructure challenges, but located at the heart of Asia, the country could serve as a transit and trade hub; connecting East to West and North to South. Investments in infrastructure will provide jobs and opportunities for Afghan people, developing skills in areas such as engineering. Better infrastructure will be key to delivering sustained economic growth.
The purpose of today’s event was to bring together Afghan, British and Chinese expertise in order to identify tangible areas for cooperation. We heard from the Afghan participants about various projects, including road, rail and hydropower. British and Chinese businesses present were interested in how to engage. The key now will be to deliver tangible outcomes that benefit ordinary people.
This will be a long term project, but the UK and China remain committed to working together with Afghanistan.
The Afghan delegation was led by Dr. Mohamed Qayoumi, Chief Adviser on Infrastructure to President Ghani of Afghanistan. Also present were representatives of engineering and construction firms, and legal and financial services companies. The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and Asia Development Bank sent representatives, as did academic institutions including the University of Southampton and Peking University.
This trilateral event was agreed by the Foreign Secretary and State Counsellor Yang Jiechi when they met in London in December 2016 for the UK-China Strategic Dialogue, and demonstrates the UK-China Global Partnership in action.