(MENAFN - Wadsam) Afghanistan's High Economic Council (HEC), chaired by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, on 3 April endorsed a National Export Strategy (NES), which aims at growing the country's exports in the short, medium and long term. This follows its previous approval by the Council of Ministers and the Executive Committee on Private Sector Development (PRISEC).
At the meeting of the High Economic Council, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other ministers lauded the European Union and its implementing partner, the International Trade Centre (ITC), for the financial and technical support. The National Export Strategy is a central component of the Advancing Afghan Trade project, a trade-related support programme funded by the European Union and implemented by ITC in support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
Building on the 2016 Brussels Conference and on Afghanistan commitments, the Delegation of the European Union to Afghanistan and ITC regard endorsement of the National Export Strategy and its implementation as pivotal for Afghanistan to use trade as a lever for enhanced regional cooperation and trade, jobs creation, prosperity and peace.
Announcing his endorsement of the National Export Strategy, President Ghani thanked the European Union for funding the development of this national strategy.
EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said: 'With this Export Strategy Afghan Government and private sector own a critical tool to shape trade of goods 'Made in Afghanistan' not just to the region but also to the EU market. The country should benefit in job creation but dividends of the Strategy could also include peace building at a critical juncture of Afghanistan's post-2001 history.'
ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘ITC is pleased to have supported the Government of Afghanistan in developing this National Export Strategy and I commend the High Economic Council for its endorsement of this roadmap which will be an important tool in developing Afghanistan's export potential and creating an environment where entrepreneurship can grow. ITC stands ready to assist Afghanistan to transform this strategy into real deliverables on the ground.'
The endorsement of the National Export Strategy (NES): Peace through Prosperity, Prosperity through Trade, marks the end of a yearlong public-private consultation process to develop the National Export Strategy, which has been led by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MoCI) together with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
During the consultation period, over 500 Afghan industry leaders, small business owners and public sector officials have provided inputs on how to develop a home-grown blueprint for competitiveness and export-led development in Afghanistan.
A series of major stakeholder consultative meetings were held across the country, including in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat and Kandahar. These were complemented by dozens of bilateral meetings with industry experts and key regional buyers, as well as assessments of factory supply chains.
In the coming weeks, an official launch and a donor roundtable under the leadership of the EU will take place to further mobilize key national stakeholders and international partners for implementation of the National Export Strategy.
The EU-funded Advancing Afghan Trade project is implemented by ITC under the leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. It is a response to the Afghan government's ongoing efforts to use trade as a driver of economic growth, regional cooperation and stability.
Afghanistan acceded to the World Trade Organization in July 2016, after which it immediately moved to ratify the global trade body's Trade Facilitation Agreement.
To ensure sustainability, local ownership and long-term impact of the project, ITC will be working with a range of partners from the private sector, academia and civil society organizations based in Afghanistan.