Afghanistan sees rise in exports as foreign investment declines

KABUL (TCA) — The Afghan Ministry of Industry and Commerce on September 18 said that Afghanistan’s exports increased by 32 percent in the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2017, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai said the expansion of trade routes was a key element behind the increase and that soon Afghanistan’s goods will be exported through the Lapis Lazuli trade corridor.

Rahimzai said that the ministry has finalized the national export policy.

“Fortunately, alternative routes are available for Afghanistan right now and the routes have left significant impact on our exports,” he said.

The Lapis Lazuli Corridor agreement was signed by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey last year. The corridor will start at Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. From there it will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe. The Lapis Lazuli Corridor is the shortest and cheapest way to transit Afghanistan’s and Asian countries’ goods to Europe.

Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has said that foreign investments have significantly declined in the country and that there are not enough infrastructures to use the Lapis Lazuli route for commerce purposes.

Although the government noted a $169 million increase in Afghanistan’s export volume last year, the increase in trade volume did not fix Afghanistan’s balance deficit of more than 90 percent.

“Our trade balance deficit is around $6.9 billion. Unfortunately, the foreign investment volume has reduced to nearly zero not only during this year but since 2014,” said Zabiullah Ziarmal, deputy head of International Chamber of Commerce.

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Times of Central Asia