Pepsi to march in, as foreign troops leave Afghanistan

KABUL Mon May 20, 2013 10:15am EDT

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KABUL May 20 (Reuters) - PepsiCo will open its first plant in Afghanistan in 2014, its Afghan partner said on Monday, the same year foreign troops complete their withdrawal from the country after 13 years of war.

"It will go on stream in 2014," Hamed Kakar, head of marketing for Dubai-based Alokozay, which has an exclusive bottling agreement with PepsiCo in Afghanistan, told Reuters.

As the NATO-led war winds down, investors are looking at Afghanistan as a potential source of business, though many are deterred by an uncertain future and instability.

War and tens of billions of dollars in constant aid have made Afghanistan a ward of the international community, though vast potential mineral resources and pent-up business desire among educated youths mean the environment could be changing.

For now, all Pepsi products sold in Afghanistan are imported from neighbouring Pakistan. Alokozay previously said the Pepsi plant was costing $60 million to build, and would provide 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

PepsiCo's rival Coca-Cola returned to Afghanistan after a decade-long break in 2006, opening a bottling plant in the capital, Kabul, which was lavishly inaugurated by President Hamid Karzai.

Sources close to the deal said the Pepsi plant would be built near the grounds of the Coca-Cola plant, in the industrial zone of Kabul.

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