© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of Kabul, Afghanistan on August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Ali Khara
By Mohammad Yunus Yawar
KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban administration promotes self-sufficiency and favors international trade and investment, the acting trade minister said, as Afghanistan faces isolation and suspension of some humanitarian operations due to restrictions on women.
“We will launch a national self-sufficiency program, encourage all government administrations to use domestic products, and try to encourage people through mosques to support our domestic products,” he told Reuters. “We will support anything that helps self-sufficiency.”
Another part of their strategy is to increase trade and foreign investment, he said.
He said, “People who were importing goods from abroad to Afghanistan should be given opportunities to invest in Afghanistan and prefer to invest here instead of importing from abroad.”
He said that countries including Iran, Russia and China are showing interest in trade and investment. He said some of the projects under discussion were Chinese industrial parks and thermal power plants with the participation of Russia and Iran.
Security concerns attributed to the Islamic State are growing after attacks on foreign targets in Kabul, where investors are already struggling with the country’s banking sector, which already lacks formal authorization and sanctions.
An attack on a hotel catering to Chinese businessmen this month that seriously injured several foreigners will prompt some to reconsider investing, a leading member of China’s business community said.
Ajizi said authorities are working to ensure security.
“We are doing our best not to harm our businessmen. The attack has not had any bad impact, (but) if it continues, yes it could have a bad impact,” he said, referring to the investment climate.
Azizi laid out a plan to boost the industry by creating special economic zones on land formerly used for US military bases. He said his ministry would present the plan to the Cabinet and Economic Commission for Administration.
He also said that foreign investors are showing interest in Afghanistan’s mining sector, which is worth more than 1 trillion dollars. He said 40 companies had participated in the bidding for the iron ore mine in western Herat and the lead mine in central Ghor province, the results of which would be announced soon.
He said a major deal signed with Russia in September for the supply of gas, oil and wheat would deliver supplies to Afghanistan in the coming days.
The Taliban-led administration has faced increased isolation in recent days with policies barring women from public life.
The ban on female NGO workers has disrupted the humanitarian sector, which provides emergency aid to millions of people, with some organizations suspending operations amid the harsh winter.
Assisi did not comment on the new restrictions, but said his ministry has earmarked 5 acres of land for a permanent exhibition center and a center for women-led businesses.
“We always support women investors,” she said.