A strategically positioned group of trade analysts is helping Afghanistan to expand its global reach
30 JULY 2013 | KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
When Afghanistan adopted the internationally recognized system of tariff nomenclature for traded goods, it was testimony to the skills of the analysts employed by its federal ministry of commerce and industries. From July 2011, its Trade Policy Analysis Unit has been producing a stream of data that is helping Afghanistan expand its reach in the global marketplace.
Centuries ago, its geography was enough for Afghanistan to be an important center of trade and commerce. It was a key part of the Silk Road trading route. But times – and trade routes – have changed and Afghanistan needs different skills to trade with the world. The Unit, set up at the Ministry with USAID support, analyzes trade policy and its impact on imports and exports, manufacturing and consumption and revenue generation. It identifies growth sectors that could boost employment and help Afghanistan feed itself. For example, the Unit suggested government support for the beverage industry and the farm sector. It has also recommended raising the import tariff on cigarettes to earn more revenue and discourage smoking.
The analysts compiled the list of proposed tariffs for more than 5,000 goods as part of Afghanistan’s transition to full membership of the World Trade Organization. It has a crucial role in helping the Afghan government implement agreements such as SAFTA, which governs trade with seven South Asian nations.
“The Unit helps define our direction in trade,” says Rahim Momand, the Ministry’s Director of International Trade Agreements. “We can find the best markets for our products, locate the shortest route to a destination or identify which Afghan products have a comparative advantage.”
Last updated: January 07, 2014