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The endorsement of the Afghanistan National Trade Policy (ANTP) marks the conclusion of a comprehensive design process with input from public and private stakeholders intended to capitalize on the access to international markets enabled by Afghanistan’s July 2016 accession to the World Trade Organization.
The ANTP will serve as a roadmap to enhance Afghanistan’s export competitiveness by building the capacity of domestic institutions and creating an enabling environment more conducive to doing business at home and across borders. It will also seek to foster policy coherence across the government by spelling out how the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) can achieve synergies with other ministries and their policies.
The reforms set out in the policy include numerous measures to implement regulations resulting from Afghanistan’s WTO commitments, thus supporting its post-accession process. They also support national priorities for private sector and agriculture development described in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF, 2017-2021), the country’s overarching policy strategy.
The ANTP is a central component of the Advancing Afghan Trade project, a trade-related support programme funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in support of Afghanistan’s MoIC. Leading up to the cabinet approval, the ANTP had received support from the council of ministers chaired by CEO Abdullah Abdullah; the Executive Committee for Private Sector Development (PriSec), an advisory body comprising government ministries, the private sector and international donors; and a private sector gathering the MoIC organised with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI). By setting out a broad framework for improving Afghanistan’s export competitiveness, the ANTP complements the narrower National Export Strategy (NES), endorsed in April, which focuses on removing bottlenecks to the development of specific export sectors with high growth and employment potential.
Afghan Minister of Industry and Commerce Ajmal Ahmady said: “The national trade policy is promoting a balanced relationship between trade integration and sustainable domestic economic development. It addresses key challenges and serves as a roadmap to overcome them.”
EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said: "The adoption of the National Trade Policy is yet another milestone in building an inclusive and forward looking set of key policies aimed at giving Afghan export products better chances of success on the international markets. The Policy will foster regional trade and allow Afghanistan to progress in achieving WTO its post-accession commitments. The EU is proud to have played a leading role in this process and will continue to strengthen its economic partnership with Afghanistan in support of an inclusive growth".
ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: “ITC is pleased to have supported the Government of Afghanistan in developing this national trade policy. This is an important roadmap which will serve as an essential tool in developing Afghanistan’s trade activities and creating an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive.”
Mr. Atiqullah Nusrat, Chief Executive Officer of ACCI said: “Trade Policy has been a longstanding necessity for the country. It will be a very useful and important document. Due to lack of such policies, we could not focus on the growth of production, and growth of exports. It will help us to see significant changes in Afghan trade.”