Kandahar consultations to help shape Afghanistan’s National Export Strategy
(Kandahar/Geneva) - Afghan industry leaders, small business owners and public sector officials met in Kandahar on 24 September to discuss challenges facing would-be traders in the south-eastern province, as well as to explore solutions that could feed into Afghanistan’s National Export Strategy (NES).
The NES, which is in the process of being drafted by the Afghan government with support from the International Trade Centre (ITC), will provide a blueprint for developing the country’s export competitiveness. To spur growth in sectors with high potential to deliver inclusive socioeconomic development, the strategy will set out detailed activities, reforms and impact measurement targets, indicating what exactly needs to be done, by whom and how much it will cost. The NES will provide national and international development partners with a costed plan for trade-related support.
Kandahar province plays a significant economic role in Afghanistan. It hosts a number of traditional and emerging industries, including sectors prioritized in the NES process such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, handicrafts, livestock and dairy products.
Representatives from these sectors participated in the Kandahar event, which was jointly organized by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), with technical support from ITC. The consultation follows a national gathering of NES stakeholders in Kabul in February, as well as provincial meetings in Mazar-e-Sharif in May and Herat in August.
The provincial NES consultations are crucial in making sure that the strategy includes perspectives from stakeholders beyond the capital. The three meetings, which included factory visits to assess supply-side issues in prioritized sectors, will culminate with a second national consultation in Kabul next month.
Mr Humayoon Rasaw, Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, said ‘The provincial consultation phase with business representatives in Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat and now here in Kandahar will pave the way for the finalization of the strategy.’ Turning to the future, he said MoCI looks forward to implementing the strategy. He pledged the ministry’s direct support and active involvement in monitoring progress and mobilizing stakeholders.
Ms Manizha Wafeq, president of the Afghanistan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries hailed the Kandahar consultation’s inclusion of women-owned businesses. ‘Women in Afghanistan’s provinces have always been the producers of export commodities but have rarely been invited to the foreground to talk about their involvement and barriers they face and how to remove those barriers to increase their participation’, she said. ‘We are grateful for ITC being considerate of this issue and we hope we could work together on promoting exports of Afghanistan with equal participation of women.’
Mr Atiqullah Nusrat, Chief Executive Officer of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: ‘The consultation in Kandahar was crucial to shed light on trade-related challenges and opportunities in the region, which will feed into the design of an inclusive and relevant Afghanistan National Export Strategy.’
The NES initiative falls under the auspices of the ‘Advancing Afghanistan Trade’ project, funded by the European Union, which aims to assist Afghanistan in improving the conditions to use trade as a lever for enhanced regional cooperation, economic and human development, and poverty reduction. Resource mobilization efforts will be developed in line with the NES plan of action.Notes for the Editor
The EU-funded Advancing Afghan Trade project is being implemented by ITC under the leadership of the MoCI. It is a response to the Afghan government’s ongoing efforts to use trade as a driver of economic growth, regional cooperation and stability.
Afghanistan acceded to the World Trade Organization in July 2016, after which it immediately moved to ratify the global trade body’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
To ensure sustainability, local ownership and long-term impact of the project, ITC will be working with a range of partners from the private sector, academia, and civil society organizations based in Afghanistan.
For further information about the Advancing Afghan Trade project, please visit: http://www.intracen.org/AAT/
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit www.intracen.org. Follow ITC on Twitter: @ITCnews
For more information, please contact:
International Trade Centre
Jarle Hetland Media Officer
Office of the Executive Director
P: + 41 22 730 0145
M: + 41 79 582 9180
E: hetland [at] intracen.org
European Union Delegation in Afghanistan
EU Media Adviser
M: + 93 (0) 700 17 35 48
E: abdullah.yadgare [at] eeas.europa.eu
To read the translated version in Pashtu please click on the link.