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HRW urges governments, IEA to reach agreement on banking issues

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(Last Updated On: August 5, 2022)

Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis cannot be effectively addressed unless the United States and other governments ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Thursday.

It said that the US air strike killing the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri should not derail ongoing discussions between the US and Afghanistan to urgently reach an agreement allowing ordinary Afghans to engage in legitimate commercial activity.

“Afghanistan’s intensifying hunger and health crisis is urgent and at its root a banking crisis,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Regardless of the Taliban’s (IEA) status or credibility with outside governments, international economic restrictions are still driving the country’s catastrophe and hurting the Afghan people.”

Despite actions by the US and others to license banking transactions with Afghan entities, Afghanistan’s central bank remains unable to access its foreign currency reserves or process or receive most international transactions. As a result, the country continues to suffer from a major liquidity crisis and lack of banknotes, HRW noted.

Businesses, humanitarian groups, and private banks continue to report extensive restrictions on their operational capacities. At the same time, because outside donors have severely cut funding to support Afghanistan health, education, and other essential sectors, millions of Afghans have lost their incomes, according to HRW.

Overall, more than 90 percent of Afghans have been suffering from some form of food insecurity since last August, skipping meals or whole days of eating and engaging in extreme coping mechanisms to pay for food, including sending children to work, HRW said.

“Importers are struggling to pay for goods, humanitarian groups are facing problems with basic operations, and the Afghan diaspora can’t send enough money to their relatives and friends,” Sifton said. “Millions of hungry Afghans are experiencing the abysmal reality of seeing food at the market but being unable to purchase it.”

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IEA trade delegation heads to Moscow

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(Last Updated On: August 14, 2022)

A delegation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) led by the acting minister of industry and commerce left Kabul Sunday for Moscow to purchase essential commodities including fuel.

“We will try to sign agreements for the purchase of basic commodities including wheat, sunflower cooking oil (as they have big factories for it) and also fuel including diesel, petrol and LPG gas,” Nooruddin Azizi, the acting minister of industry and commerce, said before his departure. “We are in talks with their major companies.”

Azizi said that during the visit they will met with the ministries of agriculture, energy and commerce.

“We hope we will have a great achievement which will be in the interest of the Afghan people,” he said.

Food and fuel prices have gone up significantly in recent months in Afghanistan, the economy of which has been isolated following last August’s political change.

“The industry and commerce minister’s trip to Moscow under existing circumstances holds special significance. We should engage with all countries to boost trade and seize the opportunities,” said Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, deputy head of the Chamber of Industries and Mines.

Mirwais Haji Zada, deputy head of the Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock, said that there is an opportunity to increase trade with Russia.

He said that Afghanistan can also increase pomegranate and dried fruits exports to Russia.

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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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