Since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghanistan trade has steadily increased, with the country partnering with more countries and receiving aid from the U.S. Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan relies heavily on its neighbors for transit routes and trade agreements. The country is working to expand its trade relations and recently partnered with India to create an air freight corridor. Here are 10 facts about Afghanistan trade:
- In July 2016, Afghanistan became a member of the World Trade Organization, a move which provides the country with trade and transit opportunities that are simple, reliable and profitable.
- There has been an increase in exports in Afghanistan from $570.50 million to $571.41 million between 2015 and 2016. Imports in Afghanistan decreased from $7.729 billion to $7.7228 billion between 2015 and 2016.
- In 2016, Afghanistan recorded a trade deficit of $7.151 billion. The country’s trade deficit has been widening since 2006 due to reconstruction efforts.
- Afghanistan’s top exports are fruits, nuts, vegetable saps, gems and precious metals.
- The top imports are peat, raw sugar, wheat flours and petroleum gas.
- Currently, Afghanistan is the 93rd largest trading partner with the U.S. In 2016, the U.S. exported goods to Afghanistan totalling 913 million USD, while the total imported goods from Afghanistan was 34 million USD.
- In May of 2016, Afghanistan, Iraq and India signed the Chabahar port agreement. This agreement was to build a port in Iran and construct a transport corridor for trade through Afghanistan. The construction of the port was originally expected to be completed by November 2017, yet now seems unlikely due to souring relations between the U.S. and Iran.
- There has been a recent 27 percent decline in trade volume between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan was previously Afghanistan’s top importer, but, due to the conflict between the two countries, some trade has been blocked.
- On Wednesday, June 21, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) stated that Pakistan has been attempting to open a new illegal transit route with Afghanistan. This is an attempt to salvage the declining trade industry between the two countries. There are already more than 10 illegal trade routes between Afghanistan and Pakistan where millions of dollars worth of goods are smuggled through annually. Despite the potential for economic gain, Afghanistan only wishes to promote legal trade and transit with Pakistan, said MoCI’s head of transit department Sayed Yahya Akhlaqi.
- Afghanistan has recently established a new, direct air freight corridor with India, opening the opportunity for an increasing volume of trade between the two countries. This agreement is a significant advantage for Afghanistan, providing access to the Indian market, a promising one for Afghan goods according to Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Shaida Mohammad Abdali.
There is more to know than just these 10 facts about Afghanistan trade. The country is making strides to better its trade with other nations, especially since the blockage of its previous top trade partner. According to Abdali, Afghanistan is open to anyone for connectivity and trade, even to Pakistan.
– Hannah Kaiser