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Afghanistan’s economic collapse could prompt refugee crisis: IMF

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(Last Updated On: October 19, 2021)

Afghanistan’s economy is set to contract up to 30% this year and this is likely to further fuel a refugee crisis that will impact neighbouring countries, Turkey and Europe, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

With non-humanitarian aid halted and foreign assets largely frozen after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August, Afghanistan’s aid-reliant economy “faces severe fiscal and balance-of-payments crises”, it said in its regional economic outlook update.

“The resulting drop in living standards threatens to push millions into poverty and could lead to a humanitarian crisis.”

The IMF said the turmoil in Afghanistan was expected to generate important economic and security spillovers to the region and beyond and was “fueling a surge in Afghan refugees”, although it gave no estimates of potential numbers.

“A large influx of refugees could put a burden on public resources in refugee-hosting countries, fuel labor market pressures, and lead to social tensions, underscoring the need for assistance from the international community,” it said.

Assuming a million more Afghans flee their homeland and settle in other countries in a way that is proportional to the existing spread of Afghan refugees, the annual cost of hosting them would amount to $100 million in Tajikistan (1.3% of gross domestic product), about $300 million in Iran (0.03% of GDP) and more than $500 million in Pakistan (0.2% of GDP), the IMF said.

Tajikistan said last month it could not afford to take in large numbers of refugees unless it received international financial assistance.

Other Central Asian nations have also said they have no plans to host refugees.

Another channel through which Afghanistan’s economic troubles could affect its neighbours is trade.

“Exports to Afghanistan are macroeconomically and socially relevant for Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan,” the Fund said.

Afghanistan previously served as a source of cash dollars, through both legitimate and possibly illicit cross-border flows, due to its status as a beneficiary of large donor funds, but now even larger amounts of dollar banknotes could start flowing into the country due to its shortages, the IMF said.

The goods they are exchanged for are likely to raise new concerns over money laundering and the financing of terrorism, it added.

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MTN receives $35 million offer for Afghanistan operation

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

South Africa’s MTN Group has received a binding offer for 100% of its shares in MTN Afghanistan for a consideration of approximately $35 million, the company has confirmed.

The identity of the buyer was not disclosed but the operator expects the transaction to be concluded within roughly six months, South African media reports indicated.

The sale will mark the completion of the group’s planned exit from its consolidated Middle East and Central Asia markets following the sale of its business in Yemen and the loss of its Syrian operations last year.

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Muttaqi urges China to help increase Afghan export volume

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with Beijing’s visiting special envoy to Kabul on Tuesday and called on China to pave the way for Afghan exports.

During the meeting, held in Kabul, Muttaqi thanked the Chinese government for starting the visa issuance process in Kabul for Afghan traders, calling it beneficial for bilateral trade between the two countries.

China’s envoy Yue Xiaoyong said that he was working on bilateral and multinational relations with Afghanistan, and spoke about the “encouraging news during his recent regional visits,” according to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry.

Yue also praised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) for its efforts and achievements, adding that the new Afghan government has been able to fulfill challenging and significant tasks in a short period of time, and that it had managed the natural disasters and cold winter well, the statement said.

The Chinese special envoy said bilateral relations with Afghanistan had progressed significantly, adding that the meetings between the two countries’ foreign ministers depicted deep relations between the two nations.

He also said that in addition to pine nuts, China was considering importing other dried and fresh fruits to help Afghanistan’s economy.

China’s special envoy arrived in Kabul after visiting Turkey, Pakistan and India to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the envoy also met with Acting Defense Minister Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, where they discussed the need for bilateral cooperation.

Mujahid told the envoy that Afghanistan would facilitate investment in the country.

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Musk says Twitter deal could move ahead with ‘bot’ info

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(Last Updated On: August 6, 2022)

Elon Musk said Saturday his planned $44 billion takeover of Twitter should move forward if the company can confirm some details about how it measures whether user accounts are ‘spam bots’ or real people, AP reported Saturday. 

The billionaire and Tesla CEO has been trying to back out of his April agreement to buy the social media company, leading Twitter to sue him last month to complete the acquisition. Musk countersued, accusing Twitter of misleading his team about the true size of its user base and other problems he said amounted to fraud and breach of contract.

Both sides are headed toward an October trial in a Delaware court.

“If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms,” Musk tweeted early Saturday. “However, if it turns out that their SEC filings are materially false, then it should not.”

Twitter declined comment Saturday. The company has repeatedly disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission an estimate that fewer than 5% of user accounts are fake or spam, with a disclaimer that it could be higher. Musk waived his right to further due diligence when he signed the April merger agreement.

Twitter has argued in court that Musk is deliberately trying to tank the deal because market conditions have deteriorated and the acquisition no longer serves his interests. In a court filing Thursday, it describes his counterclaims as an imagined story “contradicted by the evidence and common sense.”

“Musk invents representations Twitter never made and then tries to wield, selectively, the extensive confidential data Twitter provided him to conjure a breach of those purported representations,” company attorneys wrote.

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