By Amit Shankar
New Delhi, Dec. 10 (ANI): Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari will leave for a three-day official visit to Turkmenistan beginning tomorrow for the inauguration of the USD 10-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) project, where he will be joined by the heads of three other countries.
The vice president’s visit is a follow-up to the July 10 and 11 official visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to that country.
During that visit five months ago, both India and Turkmenistan had agreed that the TAPI project formed a key pillar for furthering economic engagement between the two countries.
They then had recognised that the implementation of the TAPI project would have a transformational impact on bilateral trade and decided to take measures to facilitate the early implementation of the project.
India and Turkmenistan had earlier welcomed the establishment of ‘TAPI Ltd’ as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in November 2014 in Ashgabat and acknowledged that it was a major milestone achieved.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had undertaken a visit to Tajikistan where she met the Turkmenistan President on September 12, 2014 on the sidelines of the 14th Heads of State Summit of the SCO.
Three months before Prime Minister Modi visited Turkmenistan, Swaraj visited Ashgabat from April 7 to 9 for the 5th Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC). The IGC was held on April 8 on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation.
Both sides had then signed an MoU on upgradation of the Turkmen-India Industrial Training Centre (TIITC) by HMT, besides, wide ranging discussions on bilateral cooperation across the sectors.
The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India (TAPI) gas pipeline project has made steady progress since the TAPI Summit was held in Ashgabat in December 2010.
This project is expected to be operational by August 2017. In November, 2014 the four state gas companies of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India established a company that will build, own and operate the planned 1,800 kms TAPI natural gas pipeline. The company has been incorporated as a Special Purpose Vehicle in the Isle of Man and has been named TAPI Pipeline Company.
Total trade between the two nations for fiscal 2014-15 stood at USD 105.03 million. Of this, exports from India were USD 91.98 million, while imports by India were USD 13.05 million. India enjoys a trade surplus of USD 78.93 million in its favour.
India exports electronic and electric items, machinery, woven apparel and pharmaceuticals, frozen meat and tyres. Turkmenistan exports raw hides and inorganic chemicals like iodine.
India and Turkmenistan have enjoyed close, friendly and historical ties. The ‘Turkman Gate’ built in Delhi in 1650s bears testimony to this friendship. India’s first prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru also visited Ashgabat in June 1955. (ANI)