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International Partnerships

Boosting Afghan trade: EU trade assistance in Afghanistan

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Afghanistan has prioritised trade and regional cooperation as critical elements in its economic development strategy. Meanwhile, the EU’s support to Afghanistan focuses on strengthening the country’s trade capacities and building a business-friendly environment, in hope of transforming Afghanistan and its regional partners into a vibrant regional economic hub.

The ‘Advancing Afghan trade’ project was launched in this context in 2016. The 3-year fully EU-funded project is implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), in close collaboration with the Ministry of industry and commerce and other stakeholders, including Afghan chambers of commerce and private sector stakeholders.

Key information

Total budget
EUR 4 550 000.00
EU contribution
EUR 4 550 000.00
August 2016 to August 2019
Implementing organisation
International Trade Centre
Funding instrument
Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI)


The project seeks to increase Afghanistan’s ties to the global economy, following the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2016.It prepares Afghan enterprises to increase their exports and become better equipped to compete in regional and global markets.The overall objective of the project is to use trade as a lever for enhanced regional cooperation, economic and human development, job creation and poverty reduction.


  • A national export strategy and action plan were developed to help Afghanistan identify its competitive strengths and weaknesses and potential investment opportunities, and carry out informed reforms.
  • Knowledge-sharing mechanisms have been implemented to strengthen Afghan policymakers’ trade capacities. 50 national policymakers have been trained.
  • A National Trade Facilitation Committee supports the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in the country and new mechanisms help the private sector participate in international trade and engage in a public-private dialogue.
  • Quality is better managed, with strict monitoring respecting rigorous quality standards.


The initiative efficiently fosters a public-private dialogue, local ownership, trade learning and capacity building. The consultative process that informed the design of the national export strategy has been a welcome break from the past for stakeholders from the private sector.

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