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Afghanistan steps up work to strengthen export sector

in Afghan Business

Afghanistan steps up work to strengthen export sector

Afghan industry leaders, small business owners and public sector representatives on 18 May met in Mazar-e-Sharif to explore provincial trade challenges and solutions that can feed into the ongoing design of the country’s National Export Strategy (NES). A National Export Strategy will provide a blueprint for competitiveness and development of the country’s export sector and strengthen links between export development and socio-economic growth.

The event was jointly organized by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), with the technical support of the International Trade Centre (ITC). Further technical and logistical support was provided by the GIZ Facility for Agricultural and Rural Market Development (EU FARM), in particular with the provision of a meeting venue.  The provincial consultation follows the first NES stakeholders’ consultation held in Kabul on 20 and 21 February 2017. The launch brought together 150 public and private stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities for Afghanistan’s export sector.

The NES will provide a guiding compass for achieving Afghanistan’s trade vision and will include detailed activities, targets and impact measures, indicating what exactly needs to be done, by whom and with what resources to improve the country’s export competitiveness.

Between May and July 2017, further consultations will be held in Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad, culminating in a second national consultation in Kabul. The provincial NES consultations are crucial in making sure that key stakeholders beyond the capital are included in the design of the strategy.

The NES has strong support from both the government and the private sector, as it provides national and international development partners with an appropriate implementation plan for trade-related operations. Resource mobilization efforts will be developed in line with the strategy’s plan of action.

Reiterating the government’s support to this event, Deputy Minister for Commerce Mohammad Qurban Haqjo said: ‘This provincial consultation in Mazar-e-sharif illustrates the continued focus on collecting inputs and mobilizing support across the country for the NES initiative.

‘The strong public and private sector dialogue that has taken place today on topics such as quality management, skills development and market intelligence will be invaluable in developing a sustainable and inclusive NES. MOCI congratulates all stakeholders involved in reaching this important milestone’

These views were echoed by Chief Executive Officer of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Atiqullah Nusrat. ‘ACCI fully supports this important consultation in Mazar-e-Sharif that captures the challenges, opportunities, and aspirations of the private sector in the Balkh region,’ he said. ‘The impetus on ensuring a pan-Afghanistan focus for the NES beyond Kabul demonstrates the national scope of the strategy, and will go a long way in developing the private sector as a robust engine for Afghanistan’s growth.’

The NES initiative falls under the auspices of the EU-funded ‘Advancing Afghanistan Trade’ project, 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.

The Advancing Afghan Trade project is a project funded by the European Union and is being implemented by ITC under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI).

The intervention is recognition of ongoing efforts by the Afghan government to use trade as a driver of economic growth, regional cooperation and stability. Afghanistan acceded to the WTO in July 2016 and has placed trade and regional economic cooperation at the heart of its development strategy. Its first action after acceding to the WTO was to ratify the 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, non-governmental organizations, academia and civil-society organizations based in Afghanistan.

ITC 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’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

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