by Wadsam | January 26, 2018 12:11 am
In a major step toward facilitating exports by air, the Afghan government inaugurated a One-Stop Shop (OSS) in the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) Customs Zone with the support of USAID’s Afghanistan Trade and Revenue Project. USAID support focused on the construction of the infrastructure. USAID will continue to work with staff of the OSS on custom processes and training for staff. The new facility significantly reduces the time required to export goods by streamlining and automating customs documentation.
The opening ceremony was organized by the Afghanistan Customs Department (ACD), the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, and USAID.
Afghan companies are increasingly exporting their goods through HKIA, but clearing customs has been a lengthy and costly process due to the need to visit and clear goods at multiple agencies. With the OSS, all relevant entities are located under one roof, and Afghan exporters will experience fewer delays and costs as a result of streamlined customs clearance procedures over time.
“The Office of the Chief Executive is pleased and proud that you have taken initial steps – represented by the opening of this One-Stop Shop – to remove barriers to trade and to make it easier for exporters to access foreign markets,” said Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. “Moreover, the use of air cargo and the establishment of recognized air cargo corridors between Afghanistan and places like Dubai and India allow Afghan traders to circumvent the problems that have arisen over the years regarding shipment of cargo via land borders.”
The launch of the OSS follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding among five ministries and two other entities: the Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Information and Culture; the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum; the Ministry of Public Health; the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock; the Afghanistan National Standards Authority; and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries. In addition to obtaining the buy-in of entities responsible for customs clearance, USAID worked with ACD, which operates under the Ministry of Finance, to reduce the number of customs clearance steps from 29 to 14.
The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass said, “the US believes that the steps taken today—the creation of this One-Stop Center— will help not only generate income and opportunities for Afghan businesses, and employment for Afghans, but it will give the world a different vision of Afghanistan and its future.”
Mr. Khan Jan Alokozay, Vice Chairman of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said Afghan exporters will experience simplified and standardized controls and documentation under the OSS. “Afghanistan’s carpets, saffron, dried fruits, and nuts have growing appeal in Europe, India, and the Middle East. Since the launch of the Afghanistan-India Air Corridor in May, Afghanistan has exported more than 1,000 tons by air. This and future air bridges will be strengthened by the One-Stop Shop at HKIA. It will also serve as blueprint for other OSS facilities in Mazar-e Sharif, Kandahar, and Herat,” he said.
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