Strengthening trade capacities and building a business-friendly environment is at the centre of the EU’s support to Afghanistan, with the ultimate goal of transforming Afghanistan and its regional partners into a vibrant regional economic hub. A support package for € 4.5 million, launched in 2016 and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), is one of the ways in which the European Union wants to use trade as a lever for economic growth by facilitating job creation, poverty reduction and enhanced regional cooperation.
“The EU has made support to Afghan trade a priority. Offering Afghanistan the duty free and quota free access to the EU market is necessary but not sufficient”. says H.E . Pierre Mayaudon, the EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Afghanistan. “Concrete measures are needed allowing the private sector to take the best advantage of this regime. I am confident that the ITC-implemented Advancing Afghan Trade project will immensely serve this ambition. Working for Afghan trade is working for peace.”
The initiative aims to further increase Afghanistan’s ties to the global economy, following the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2016. The three-year project (2016-2019), is implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and a variety of stakeholders, including Afghan chambers of commerce and private sector stakeholders.
Among other pressing issues, the project will increase the capacity of government institutions to formulate and implement trade strategies and policies, improve cross border movement of goods, and enhance the quality of products to meet international standards. By doing so, the project prepares Afghan enterprises to increase their exports and become better equipped to compete in regional and global markets.
For the Afghan private sector, the consultative process that informed two important outputs of the project, the National Export Strategy and the National Trade Policy, has been a welcome break from the past. "We were treated as a teammate of the government in this process, not a competitor", said Mr Atiqullah Nusrat, Chief Executive at Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries. Afghan Minister of Industry and Commerce Humayoon Rasaw said these outputs would promote "a balanced relationship between trade integration and sustainable domestic economic development".