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News and Views

Afghanistan Business News: Trade, Awards and Initiatives

U.S. – Afghanistan TIFA Council Meets in Kabul

On October 8, 2008 the U.S.–Afghanistan Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council met for the first time in Kabul for the third annual bilateral TIFA meeting since the original agreement was signed in December 2005 in Washington, D.C.

Council co-chairs Minister of Commerce & Industry Mir Mohammad Amin Farhang and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Delaney lead the discussions in a joint effort to collaborate and strengthen investment and business related activities effectively between governments and private sectors.

During the joint meeting, officials discussed current major economic opportunities in Afghanistan and encouraged sustainable private investment in three key areas of cooperation including dried fruits and nuts, carpets and the mining sector. At the same time, both governments agreed that continued legal and regulatory commercial reforms and dealing with corruption were necessary to eliminate barriers to trade.

Other conversations during the talks focused on a number of important programs including Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), the U.S. Generalized System Preferences (GSP), the continued need for capacity building and the bilateral transit trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The second day of the TIFA meetings included site visits by the official U.S. delegation to the commendable industrial parks and established businesses in and around Kabul as a sign of progress that has taken place over the last six years.

The fourth annual TIFA Council meeting will take place in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

AISA and EPAA win International Awards of Excellence

It has been a memorable year for government institutions managing both investment promotion and trade promotion activities for Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), in its fifth year of existence, and the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA), a newly established agency in only its second year, have won international awards in their respective fields.

The Afghan government has made significant progress in reforms that have taken decades to achieve in other countries. In April of this year, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, the president AISA was awarded the "World's Second Best Investment Promotion Agency" at the World Investment Conference 2008 in Accra, Ghana. In mid-October, the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA) under the leadership of President Suleman Fatimie won the "Best Trade Promotion Organization from a Least Developed Country" at the World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations, in The Hague, Netherlands. These are two amazing and outstanding accomplishments given the ongoing struggles Afghanistan continues to face each day.

Both AISA and EPAA have strived to reach new levels of service to foreign and domestic investors as well as traders and exporters which is much needed in order to attract the quality of businesses Afghanistan is ready to work with today. The fruits of their efforts can be witnessed today as we share with them the glory of achieving these outstanding awards for Afghanistan.

World Bank Launches the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Afghanistan

On October 10, Commercial Attaché Khaleda Atta attended the official launch of the global "Adolescent Girls Initiative" at the World Bank headquarters on behalf of the government of Afghanistan, one of the six beneficiaries of this newly established public-private partnership program. A recent World Bank study found, "one person in eight [world-wide] is a girl or young woman [between] age 10-24." The Adolescent Girls Initiative is a major program that for the first time directly addresses the grim issues faced by over 600 million young girls in poor and post-conflict countries around the world.

The program was officially launched by World Bank President Robert Zoellick and attended by donor and beneficiary country representatives as well as private sector sponsors including Nike, Standard Chartered and Goldman Sachs. The initiative was spearheaded by World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a staunch advocate for poverty-reduction in developing countries and particularly women and girls issues.

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