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Afghanistan, Uzbekistan Step Up Efforts To Bolster Trade Ties

in Afghan Business

Afghanistan, Uzbekistan Step Up Efforts To Bolster Trade Ties

Afghanistan and Uzbekistan are continuing efforts to strengthen trade relations between the two countries. Significant progress was made during the second round of the Afghanistan-Uzbekistan public-private dialogue – held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 16 July – during which the two sides agreed to further strengthen their trade relations.

The event was held within the framework of the Advancing Afghan Trade (AAT) project financed by the European Union (EU) and implemented by International Trade Centre (ITC). A key goal of the AAT project is ensure greater integration and connectivity of Afghanistan with its neighbours. Crucial to the success of this effort is regular consultations with neighbouring countries on government and enterprise levels.

Ajmal Ahmady, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Afghanistan, said: ‘Our trade mission to Tashkent confirmed the strong will of both nations to enhance relations in all spheres of economy. Sustained dialogue will help address challenges related to trade and transit, and the Public-Private Dialogue is the optimal platform to achieve this. I am certain that the different components of this meeting will strengthen the trade and economic ties between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.’

The meeting in Tashkent concluded with a declaration to further strengthen trade cooperation between the two countries. Among the intentions set out in the declaration were the reaffirmation to ensure the mutual implementation of the Most Favored Nation (MFN) treatment and to scrutinize transit issues, transit costs and fees through the establishment of a dedicated working group. The declaration also establishes the need to conclude a trilateral transit agreement with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; and to conclude a bilateral agreement on mutual promotion and protection of investment. A road map including a timeline on implementation of the agreed actions will be annexed to the official declaration.

Pierre Mayaudon, Ambassador and Head of European Union (EU) Delegation in Afghanistan said that the strengthening of Afghanistan’s trade connectivity was key a priority for the European Union. ‘I am confident that the second Public-Private Dialogue held this week in Tashkent will serve this purpose in multiple manners. Facilitated by ITC, our implementing partner of the Advancing Afghan Trade project, this meeting marks an important milestone in the process,’ he said

‘Connecting Afghanistan with regional trade corridors means greater access to global value chains and markets – including the European Union – which will improve the circulation of people, goods and services. And we are very pleased to see the positive impact of the EU-supported AAT project on the Afghan-Uzbek trade relations. Working for Afghan trade connectivity is working for peace.’

Jean-Sébastien Roure, a senior adviser with ITC and manager of  the AAT project, said: ‘These regular consultations have been crucial in opening up new, non-traditional trading routes for Afghanistan and building confidence and trust between government and business stakeholders of the two countries.’

Notable successes since the launch of the initiative in 2018 include facilitating the process of unilateral granting by Uzbekistan of most-favoured nation preference to all Afghan imports; review of transit fees applied by Uzbekistan to Afghan traders; and; a proposal by Uzbekistan to establish a special Frontier Trade Zone on the basis of ‘Termez Cargo Center’ specifically for Afghan traders.

The EU-funded Advancing Afghan Trade project is implemented by International Trade Center under the leadership of the Afghan Ministry of Industry and Commerce. 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.

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