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   5th Annual U.S.-Afghanistan Business Matchmaking Conference 2009

October 19, 2009 – (WASHINGTON, DC)  A record number of American and Afghan business experts turned out to share information, experience, and opportunities in agribusiness, construction, mining, energy, finance contracting, as well as many other development and entrepreneur topics at the 5th Annual Afghan American Business Matchmaking Conference.  For three days, The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center bustled with more than four hundred individuals dedicated to strengthening economic ties between the United States and Afghanistan and finding paths to improved business opportunities.

His Excellency Ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States Said Tayeb Jawad addressed the crowd, remarking at the growth his country had witnessed, despite a war, over the past year.  “Our trade volume with the US is increasing rapidly,” he said.  “Since last year, our two-way trade has increased 100% from $397 million to $753 million and will exceed one billion next year,” Ambassador Jawad explained.  Some of the success, he noted, should be credited to American assistance.    

“The US government is assisting Afghanistan through the US Afghanistan & Pakistan Trilateral Talks with regional trade and transit issues….We continue to work with the U.S. Congress and the US Administration to help pass the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) legislation, which will allow Afghanistan to export duty free goods to the USA and attract more foreign investment,” he said. 

The conference included discussions on the current economic environment in major industry sectors in Afghanistan including mines, airlines, telecommunications, banking, and construction.  Ambassador Jawad pointed to business tax revenues to produce as the most likely force most significant changes for the country, “While rural development has the largest impact on the income of the majority of Afghans, it is the growth of the private sector and mining industries that will provide the tax base Afghanistan needs to fund basic services for the population.”

The conference was arranged by the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce (ACC)  in collaboration with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI)  The event was sponsored by Kam Air, Harirod Group of Companies and Kabul Bank

The following companies were among those who attended the conference: Safi Airways; Telecommunications: Afghan Wireless; Construction:  Caterpillar, DynCorp International, Afghan Builders Association, Harirod Group, Aadel Rokay Construction Company; Mines: Afghan Emerald; Banking:  Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Maiwand Bank, Minister Advisor to President Karsi on Banking and Private Sector; Agriculture:  American Wool & Cashmere, Inc., Senior Advisor for Agriculture to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Education:  Ajeer Higher Education Institute, Rana Institute of Higher Studies; Power & Energy:  Liberty Corp;  Engineering:  Hi-Tech International Engineering; Other:  Deloitte Consulting, LLP, Roots of Peace, Deputy to the Special Representative  for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Major General Jeffrey Dorko, Deputy Commanding General for Military and International Operations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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