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Export Promotion Agency Established to Support Sustainable Economic Growth

Exports play an important role in the economic development of a country, especially in terms of increasing foreign revenue.  Increased participation of Afghanistan in the processing, marketing and distribution of its commodities, if accompanied by improved market access, provides an alternative means for ensuring greater value added, as well as predictability and increased export earnings.  Exports can increase intra-industry trade, help the country to integrate in the world economy and reduce the impact of external shocks on the domestic economy.  Keeping in view that Afghanistan suffers from a huge trade deficit which is not sustainable, it is important to ease the pressure on the balance of payments through exports and increased local production. 

Economic development can not be achieved and sustained unless the following is not addressed:

  • Policy environment meaning trade and investment friendly policies to encourage domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) and joint ventures to enhance volumes of exports.
  • Human capital developments-- high volume of exports demand easy availability of technical or skilled labor.
  • Establishing and strengthening of physical and technological infrastructure.
  • Improvement in logistics chain such as roads, transit systems and aviation.
  • Production of high quality products, value addition mechanism and exports of processed products.
  • Market accessibility and marketing of exportable products.
  • Building of strong confidence between government, private sector and academia.

Obstacles to exports/exporters in Afghanistan come in various shapes and sizes. Traditional obstacles like tariffs and quotas are easily identifiable, while non-tariff barriers range from the obvious, like domestic content requirements and fees and border taxes, to the obscure, like administrative regulations and the altering of procedures.  Many potential exporters shy away from exporting due to the fear of red tape and bureaucracy caused by export documentation.

With regard to technical obstacles to export promotion, the following is evident:

-   Design, packaging and quality control skills are lacking in Afghanistan.

-   Considerable information barriers exist with regard to exporters’ knowledge on potential export markets.

-   Access to export financing

-   Support in the area of training and human resources development for trade promotion.

In order to expand exports and address the above-mentioned obstacles, the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA) an Executive Arm of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries was established in September 2006 with financial and technical support of GTZ.  EPAA will act as an implementing agency of the export promotion policies of MOCI, promoting exports through exportable offer development tools, advising and advocacy, marketing, coordinating both the public and private sector initiatives to create an enabling environment for competitive exports and contribute to the generation of jobs.

Objectives:

-  Streamlining the export procedures/process in Afghanistan

-  Exploring potential markets for Afghan products and link up Afghan exporters with foreign importers

-  Collect, analyze and disseminate trade related information to the business community

-   Coordinating with stakeholders and relevant organizations to improve use of resources for Export Promotion

-   Provide support to exporters in order for them to participate in regional and international trade fairs and other trade promotion events

-   Provide training to small and medium sized enterprises in export readiness.

Given that the Afghan Government has started to give more attention to creating a friendlier trade and investment environment, it is anticipated that this will have positive impact on private sector development, FDI and exports, and thus finally also on sustainable growth. For further information on the EPAA please visit www.epaa.org.af or email info@epaa.org.af

The author of this article is Mr. Suleman Fatimie, President of EPAA

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