European Union (EU) officials have said that Afghanistan’s export climate over recent years has not been encouraging and that the trade deficit is one of the worst in the world. They said the Afghan government has not been able to use the incentives provided by the EU to substantially increase exports to European countries. Speaking at an event in Kabul on Sunday, where a new export strategy was released, Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Center (ITC), said prosperity and peace would come from trade. “The national export strategy is called peace through prosperity, prosperity through trade, and this is precisely what we all in this room want to do, to use trade to generate growth and to generate jobs; this is what the young population is demanding from all of us in the room. Doing that contributes to peace and stability that is the logic behind this document,” Gonzalez said in reference to the strategy. Also speaking at the event was ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, the European Union Head of Delegation to Afghanistan, who said the trade deficit in Afghanistan was one of the worst in the world. “It is alarming even so minister (of trade and industry) you have reflected some progress in the volume of exports, but nevertheless this ratio of ten to one we have seen the corresponding trade deficit to be one of the worst in the world in-fact and it’s about time to replace the trading model which is driven by imports.” But Afghan officials said the national export strategy will have a significant impact on reducing the trade balance deficit over the next five years. Based on the strategy, Afghanistan’s exports will increase significantly in this time, with the cooperation of the European Union and International Trade Centre (ITC). Meanwhile CEO Abdullah Abdullah said in turn that the implementation of the strategy was a key element to reducing the trade balance deficit. “We are absolutely confident about the results which will be obtained from the implementation of this strategy, we hope that the problems in this field are resolved,” said Abdullah. He also stressed the need for more facilities to be provided to the export sector. “Compared to recent years, our export volume has increased from USD 600 million per annum to USD 700 million and this indicates a better situation,” said Humayoun Rasa, the minister of commerce and industries. Meanwhile officials from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said that in some cases, the decisions made by the leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) are not adhered to by ministries and other government institutions. The national export strategy aims to take solid steps towards Afghanistan’s sustainable economic development and to boost government revenues and increase exports. The strategy will be implemented over the next five years.
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