U.S. and Afghanistan Hold TIFA Council Meeting
Washington, DC – On July 11, 2007, during the second meeting of the U.S. – Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. M. Amin Farhang and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South Asia Douglas A. Hartwick discussed ways to deepen the U.S.–Afghanistan economic relationship and to expand bilateral trade and investment ties. Minister Farhang also met with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia.
"We were pleased to host this second meeting of the U.S.-Afghanistan TIFA Council and believe that Afghanistan's integration into the global trade community is essential for the prosperity of the Afghan people and for enhancing bilateral trade,” said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia. “We will continue to support the Afghans in this vital effort.”
The TIFA Council meeting included a discussion of the U.S. Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) proposal announced by President Bush during his visit to the region in March 2006. This initiative, which requires Congressional legislation, would allow duty-free entry into the United States for certain products produced in designated areas of Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan. The U.S. and Afghan delegations also reviewed progress in Afghanistan's accession to the World Trade Organization, assistance in utilizing the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and investment needs in Afghanistan's energy, mining and agriculture sectors. The two delegations also held discussions with representatives of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce.
On July 10, Minister Farhang and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez signed a Joint Statement outlining a common agenda for future commercial cooperation focusing on capacity building, business promotion, and facilitating linkages between Afghan and U.S. businesses.
Afghanistan has opened its economy to private sector-led development and has attracted investors in infrastructure, transport, telecommunications, agriculture, and consumer goods. Afghanistan's world exports are $566 million and imports are $4.4 billion (2006). The top investor countries are Turkey, Pakistan, US, China, UAE, Iran with total investment of $2.4 billion since 2003. Major exports include carpets, fruits, and nuts. U.S. exports to Afghanistan totaled $417 million last year.