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Interview: US to help Afghanistan in getting WTO membership

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Lalit K. Jha

NEW YORK, July 13 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The United States has assured Afghanistan of all possible support for its inclusion in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The pledge was made during the three-day visit of the Minister for Commerce and Industries Mir Muhammad Amin Farhang to Washington this week.

“During the meeting, the US officials assured us favourable consideration and their full support in enabling Afghanistan to meet the criteria and standards to become member of the WTO,” Farhang told Pajhwok Afghan News in an interview.

Afghanistan’s application for becoming member of WTO is pending before the world body for about a year now. Right now, the feasibility of Afghanistan’s membership to the WTO is being accessed. “We hope to become WTO member in the next four-five years,” the minister said. “We look forward towards integrating Afghanistan to the global economy through WTO.”

During his three-day visit, Farhang, who led a nine-member high-power delegation, held consultations with US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, besides leading the country in the second meeting of the US-Afghanistan Council on Trade and Investment. The minister also signed a joint statement on Commercial Co-operation.

“We had an opportunity to discuss additional areas of co-operation within the framework of TIFA,” the minister said. One of the major issues discussed was the launch of the much awaited Reconstruction Opportunity Zone or ROZ in the tribal areas of the Afghan-Pak border, which would give manufacturers an option to export goods to the United States without any taxation.

The proposal had been in the pipeline for quite some time now, and Afghanistan was now eagerly looking towards it being implemented on the ground, he said.

The minister also discussed with his US counterparts the issue of promotion and development of seven export promotion zones in Afghanistan.

Farhang said the US has assured extending full support for the export promotion zones and helping Afghanistan in creating the necessary infrastructure so as to export Afghan goods all over the world, particularly in the American markets.

He said a major advantage to the Afghan farm products – dry/fresh fruits and vegetables – was that they were organic and do not possessed any chemical content.

As people in the developed world are moving fast towards organic products, Afghan farm products have a great export potential. “With the help of the US, we are developing necessary infrastructure to tap this huge market available for us,” he said.

Farhang said several US-based companies had shown interest in investing in this sector, as they see huge potential in export of organic farm-products from Afghanistan. “We are in talks with a lot of US companies,” he said.

As export of products to the international market required stringent standards, he said the US was helping the country in establishing the Afghanistan National Standard Agency.

The minister also held meeting with officials of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). The OPIC officials agreed to send a delegation to Afghanistan by the end of the current month to assess the situation there.

During his say in the United States, Farhang also held meeting with Afghan businessmen, including officials of the Afghan American Chambers of Commerce.

Written by afghandevnews

July 13, 2007 at 2:55 am

Posted in Economy

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