G8 Foreign Ministers Announce Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative

(No. 122 - March 29, 2010 - 10:30 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, acting in his capacity as 2010 Chair of the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting and on the ministers’ behalf, today announced the Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative.

The goal of the Initiative is to support the building of trade and border infrastructure to foster economic development and local employment in the border region. The G8 has developed this initiative in consultation with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as with the support of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

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Backgrounder - Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative

The G8 Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative focuses on one of the least economically developed regions in the world. Improving the socio-economic situation in this region is an important step in building community resilience against violent extremism.

As a group, the G8 has recognized this challenge since 2007, when the G8 commitment to focus on peace, security and development in the region was announced jointly with the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Potsdam, under Germany’s presidency. The G8 Coordination Arrangement was then endorsed by G8 foreign ministers in Kyoto in 2008, during the Japanese presidency, as a tool for the G8 to act as a convening force bringing a broad range of actors around the table to help deliver on this commitment. Meetings of the Arrangement, started by the Japanese, have been convened regularly by Italy in 2009 and by Canada in 2010.

The launch of the Afghanistan Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative is a tangible and results-oriented outcome of the discussions at the G8 Gatineau Foreign Ministers Meeting. The G8 pursued this Initiative in close partnership with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Building on the work of recent G8 presidencies, and on a Canada-facilitated initiative bringing together Afghan and Pakistani border officials—known as the Dubai Process—the present Initiative will continue to focus the G8 on Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to help increase trade between the two countries.

The Initiative aims to facilitate the delivery of targeted projects, including infrastructure projects essential to fostering trade, which will ultimately contribute to economic development and to the provision of enhanced opportunities for employment in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Initiative addresses the need to increase trade between the two countries, an issue highlighted by the World Bank. The Initiative will be complementary to other trade facilitation efforts such as private sector and agriculture development and the Dubai Process.

During the first year of its implementation, the Initiative will facilitate progress on infrastructure projects identified by the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, for example those highlighted in the Joint Declaration on Next Steps in Pakistan-Afghanistan Comprehensive Cooperation adopted on March 11, 2010: a Peshawar-Jalalabad Expressway and a feasibility study for a Peshawar-Jalalabad rail link. Through this Initiative, the G8, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank hope to deliver tangible, positive results for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, strengthen regional cooperation and bring greater stability to the region as a whole.