Afghanistan still fails to take advantage of WTO membership

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KABUL (TCA) — Afghanistan obtained World Trade Organization membership one year ago, but no one has so far been appointed to represent the country at the organization, TOLOnews agency reports.

Officials from the Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries said the United States has invested $100 million over the last 10 years in different fields to enable Afghanistan to get membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO), but after a year as a member, no one has been appointed as the country’s representative.

According to the ministry, the lack of human resources is one of the reasons behind the problem.

“The lack of human resources, capabilities, is a challenge, but we hope that in cooperation with government institutions we can fulfill our commitments at the WTO,” said Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, the acting deputy minister for commerce at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

“Two issues are important in our joining the WTO. First, how and by what preparations we join the organization, and second, what should we do after joining the organization and how to deal with regional and international partners,” said Afghan economic analyst Shabir Bashiri.

Officials from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) also said a technical and professional team should be sent to the WTO so that Afghanistan could make the most of the membership opportunity.

“Considering the complications in our relations with regional countries, we should send a professional team to WTO to benefit under WTO structures,” the International Chamber of Commerce’s country director Abdul Qadir Bahman said.

Afghanistan applied for WTO membership, with the help of the United States, 11 years ago.

As a member, Afghanistan is to annually pay $46,000 USD in fees.

Sergey Kwan

TCA