Advancing Afghan Trade project supports mutually beneficial regional trade

The Advancing Afghan Trade (AAT) project is a project funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre 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.

A main aim of the project is to support the integration of regional trade, which is seen as critical to building Afghanistan’s economy and to ensure economic growth in the broader Central Asia region. Such growth can only happen when Afghanistan is better integrated in regional and global trade.

To that end, AAT is working with countries in the region, including Tajikistan, to better facilitate the smooth flow of trade. As already initiated through key regional associations such as ECO, CAREC and CBTA, it will work towards strengthening cooperation on trade, transit and transportation,

Key areas of focus include regional integration and implementation of bilateral and transit agreements; promoting harmonization with international conventions, agreements and standards; simplifying and harmonizing trade procedures and documentation; addressing obstacles (NTMs) to trade – particular in key product areas and reviving business to business linkages.

In this regard, whist the projects main aim is to support Afghanistan’s involvement in regional trade, the work undertaken (aimed at making trade easier regionally) will also benefit other countries in the region wishing to trade into (as well as in transit) Afghanistan,  and amongst themselves.

The project is thus aiming to stimulate cross-border economic cooperation, creating initiatives which might transcend the border and contribute to mutual economic growth and solidarity.

It will rely upon promoting well-informed dialogue amongst private and public stakeholders in the region as a means for finding solutions to regional challenges.

  • Importance to Tajikistan

In recent years Afghanistan has gradually become one of Tajikistan’s most important trade and economic partners. This was largely facilitated by measures to address the challenges of being landlocked and isolated.

But certainly more can be done.  ITC has already commenced implementing a national export strategy in Afghanistan, and this will continue throughout 2017. It will try to identify value chains of mutual interest to both countries and strategize on best to further grow and then practically implement (project funds will be made available for this).

Additionally, trade barriers (non-tariff measures) which are affecting the optimal functioning of value chains will be identified and taken up further at bilateral/regional inter-governmental discussions with an aim to implementing trade-enabling reforms.

From a trade facilitation perspective, the project will support the standardization, harmonization and simplification of documents and procedures for trade between both countries. Following the implementation of reforms, this will reduce the time and cost for exporting and importing between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Regular stakeholder consultations on trade negotiation and policy issues will be held so as to identify reforms, which would ease the doing of business between the countries exporters. Such consultation will be informed by well-informed research and leading international experts so as to enable optimal decision making.

For further information about the Advancing Afghan Trade project, please visit: http://intracen.org/AAT/

Note for the Editor

About ITC

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. For more information, visit www.intracen.org. Follow ITC on Twitter: @ITCnews

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