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IEA discusses easing banking transactions with Kazakhstan



(Last Updated On: August 11, 2023)

A delegation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) discussed facilitating international financial transactions with private banks on a recent trip to Kazakhstan in a bid to ease the Afghan banking sector’s isolation, the acting commerce minister said.

Nooruddin Azizi, acting Minister of Commerce and Industry, led a business delegation to Kazakhstan last week.

In addition to banking he discussed the possibility of preferential trade tariffs, telecommunications projects and transit routes, including for possible shipments of Russian oil to South Asia, he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

“We had teams from Da Afghanistan Bank (Afghanistan’s central bank) and private banks in Kazakhstan, they discussed and are trying to find good ways to decrease the price of financial transactions … we don’t have any banking limitation with Kazakhstan,” he said.

Afghanistan’s banking sector has been hampered and international transactions severely limited since the IEA administration took over two years ago as foreign forces withdrew.

Some IEA leaders are subject to United Nations and United States sanctions. Many international banks have limited transactions with Afghan banks to reduce risk, economists and diplomats say, contributing to a stall in the financial system.

That has been exacerbated by the United States and other governments freezing Afghan central bank assets held abroad.

Azizi also said transactions that went ahead often incurred expensive fees, sometimes 5% of the transaction, which they hoped to reduce.

Fixing Afghanistan’s banking sector was a priority, he said, adding that there are no sanctions directly on banks. But he acknowledged international financial institutions were not easily facilitating transactions.

“It is the preference of some banks that they don’t want to deal with Afghanistan, they might think the trade volume is low, but for us it is very important,” he said.

The United States has issued exemptions to sanctions for humanitarian operations and at times helped facilitate specific transactions, such as an Afghan central bank payment to European companies to buy fresh bank notes.

But traders and international agencies say normal banking has not been restored, hampering the economy and causing headaches for traders and aid programs.

The United Nations, which uses billions of dollars a year to fund humanitarian operations, has to fly in pallets of cash in physical shipments to Kabul.


Female entrepreneurs at Kabul women’s market say businesses are doing well



(Last Updated On: September 26, 2023)

A number of female entrepreneurs at the special women’s market in Kabul say their businesses are improving day-by-day and that they have also set up online shopping opportunities for women.

These women say they are happy to have their own market where they can sell their own goods.

“Our clothes are Afghani Gand (traditional dress). Our sellers and buyers are both women. We are happy that such a market has been established in Kabul,” said Ferozah Qasimi, a woman entrepreneur.

“The good thing about this market for women and girls is that they can easily and calmly use the green space here, relax their minds and buy the things they need from one place,” said another woman entrepreneur.

“My request to government and foreign institutions is to join hands with us, to cooperate with us so that we can make further progress in our work,” said another businesswoman.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Chamber of Commerce says there is no limit to women entrepreneurs.

“We are seeing very good developments in this chamber which is creating markets and creating expos,” said Salma Yousafzai, head of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) spokesperson Abdulsalam Jawad Akhundzada stated that the ministry supports businesswomen.

“The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has always supported women entrepreneurs and has always supported them in all aspects of trade and industry,” said Akhundzada.

“Thousands of women in 34 provinces of Afghanistan are actually working in various sectors of industry and investment,” he added.

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Foreign cash aid and tight restrictions on afghani helps ‘stabilize’ local currency



(Last Updated On: September 26, 2023)

Billions of US dollars, flowing into Afghanistan, in the form of cash aid, is helping to stabilize the local currency so much that the AFN has been propelled to the top of the global rankings this quarter.

According to America’s Bloomberg news agency, the afghani (AFN) has maintained its value against foreign currencies, especially the US dollar, on the back of the cash aid and other factors.

Additional actions are also helping to stabilize the currency including the Islamic Emirate’s ban on the use of Pakistani rupees and US dollars on the local market, and an increase in cross border trade, Bloomberg reported.

Currently, the AFN is trading at just under 80 afghanis to the dollar.

The international community has shipped in on over $40 million dollars a week since the fall of the former government. This money is handled by the UN and used for aid in the country.

Bloomberg reported however that the cash aid and increased trade with Afghanistan’s neighbors has propelled Afghanistan’s currency to the top of global rankings this quarter — an unusual spot for a poverty-stricken country.

The IEA’s tight restrictions on taking dollars out of the country, banning online trading and imposing prison sentences on those who break the rules, have also contributed to this stability, Bloomberg reported.

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IEA orders all government entities to procure domestic goods over imported products



(Last Updated On: September 25, 2023)

Under the guidance of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Office, a meeting aimed at bolstering the industrial sector and supporting locally manufactured goods was held at Marmarin Palace on Monday.

Officials from key ministries, including finance, interior, industry and commerce, economy, the general directorate of intelligence, and representatives from the private sector participated.

Significant decisions were made to strengthen the domestic industrial landscape. The Afghanistan Chamber of Industry and Mines will formally present domestic products to the Tariff Committee, which will follow a meticulous process of assessing quality, quantity, and pricing. The Tariff Committee, which is made up of officials from the general directorate of intelligence, Afghanistan Food and Drug Authority, and Afghanistan National Standard Authority, will determine import tariffs so as to ensure domestically made goods are prioritized on the local market.

Their findings will be reported to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs. Furthermore, in alignment with Resolution No.19 of the Cabinet of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, all government institutions are mandated to prioritize the use of domestic products in their procurement processes. This commitment extends to cases where the quality of domestic products may lag behind foreign counterparts by 10 to 15 percent.

Government entities are directed to maintain comprehensive lists of domestic products and seek quotations accordingly during procurement. To address security concerns for industrialists and investors and foster effective coordination, it was resolved that within three days, the Ministries of Interior, Finance, Industry and Commerce, the General Directorate of Intelligence, and the Chambers of Afghanistan Trade and Investment and Industry and Mines will designate competent representatives to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs.

Additionally, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce assumes the pivotal role of submitting product names, marks, and brands for anti-counterfeiting measures to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs.

As a concluding mandate, the Tariff Committee, under the stewardship of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, will comprehensively investigate the existing challenges related to invoice execution between the Chambers of Commerce and Investment and Industry and Mines.

Their findings and recommendations will be presented to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs.

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