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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Travels to Afghanistan

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez traveled to Afghanistan for the second time on August 29. Secretary Gutierrez discussed regional economic cooperation during a ceremony with President Karzai and President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan. The Secretary also met with Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Mir Mohammad Amin Farhang and other members of the Afghan Cabinet and the Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce to discuss ongoing efforts to help Afghanistan develop its trade capacity and private sector.

The U.S. commercial relationship with Afghanistan continues to expand. Last year, two-way trade reached $462 million – 40 percent more than the previous year. In addition, more than 160 U.S. companies registered with the Afghan Investment Support Agency, representing over $100 million in potential investment.

The highlight of the visit was a ribbon cutting ceremony at the inaugural Afghanistan International Carpet Fair. Rugs are an important export sector for Afghanistan that provide opportunity, jobs and hope for the Afghan people. Secretary Gutierrez was accompanied by a delegation of nine U.S. rug companies with an interest in the Afghan market. Exports of Afghan rugs to the United States rose by 38 percent during the first four months of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006.

“The Afghan people’s diligent work ethic has helped the Afghan economy grow in recent years,” said Secretary Gutierrez. “As the Afghan people continue to embrace open markets and democratic principles their economy will see the fruits of their labor. The export of Afghan rugs will help raise the standard of living for many Afghan families and will help to improve the country’s expanding economy.”

The Afghanistan International Carpet Fair featured contemporary and antique carpets from around Afghanistan. The fair was an opportunity for 120 vendors to showcase their products including Afghan producers that have been in the business for centuries. The show expects to attract premier carpet importers, investors and equipment suppliers from around the world.

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