The Ministry of Industry and Commerce on Tuesday claimed that Afghanistan’s exports volume has increased by 32 percent in the first eight months of this year compared to the similar period in 2017.
Acting Minister of Industry and Commerce Ajmal Hamid Abdul Rahimzai said the expansion of trade routes was a key element behind the increase and that soon Afghanistan’s export items will be sent through the Lapis Lazuli trade corridor.
Rahimzai said under his leadership, the ministry also succeeded to outline and finalize the national export policy.
“Fortunately, alternative routes are available for Afghanistan right now and the routes have left significant impact on our exports,” said Abdul Rahimzai.
The acting minister however did not respond to questions on an increase or decrease of imports.
Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has said that foreign investments have significantly declined in the country and that there are no enough infrastructures to use the Lapis Lazuli route for commerce purposes.
Although the government noted a $169 million increase in Afghanistan’s export volume last year, but the increase in trade volume did not fix Afghanistan’s balance deficit of more than 90 percent.
Alongside that, progress was not recorded in the gross trade balance deficit of the country.
“Our trade balance deficit is around $6.9 billion. Unfortunately, the foreign investment volume has reduced to nearly to zero not only during this year but since 2014,” said Zabiullah Ziarmal, deputy head of International Chamber of Commerce.
Currently instead of paying more than 30,000 AFs, investors are paying only 100 AFs to obtain an investment license and buy one square meter of land in industrial parks for 50 AFs.
The Lapis Lazuli Route
The Lapis Lazuli Corridor agreement was signed by Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey last year in November.
The corridor will start at Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province and Torghandi in western Herat province and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. From there it will cross the Caspian Sea and will link the Azerbaijani capital Baku to Tbilisi and Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. It will then connect with Kars in eastern Turkey before linking to Istanbul and Europe.
The inaugural shipment will carry Afghan handicrafts and dry fruit to Europe, said Musafir Qoqandi, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce said last month that the Lapis Lazuli Corridor agreement will be implemented within the next two months and will see the first Afghan shipment of goods exported to Europe via the new route.
Officials of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries have said that the Lapis Lazuli Corridor is the shortest and cheapest way to transit Afghanistan’s and Asian countries’ goods to Europe.