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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Afghanistan

This week, a USTR-led delegation comprised of senior American government officials is in Afghanistan to discuss bilateral trade and investment. USTR would like to take a moment to highlight the United States’ trade partnership with Afghanistan. Through trade and the development of markets for American goods in the region, USTR is creating and supporting jobs here at home.

The purpose of the delegation’s visit to Afghanistan is to continue expanding the relationship between the two governments beyond security and military issues, focusing especially on trade and investment. Afghanistan is already an important trade partner for the United States. In 2010, the U.S. sent $2.2 billion worth of goods to Afghanistan, a 42.9 percent increase from 2009.

As reflected by the nature of exported goods, trade is playing an important role in helping to reestablish the Afghan economy after decades of conflict. The top U.S. export categories were vehicles, electrical machinery, aircraft, machinery, and optic and medical instruments in 2010.

In addition to the industrial exports, the U.S. also exported $81 million of agricultural products to Afghanistan in 2010. These products included poultry meat, soybean oil, vegetable oils, and wheat.

Another important goal of the trip is to encourage Afghanistan to intensify its efforts on its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Through the accession process Afghanistan will update its legal and regulatory regime to put in place a sound legal structure for its domestic businesses as well as for its importers and exporters, promote rule of law, increase transparency and reassure investors about the stability of the economy. This improved legal framework also will encourage increased domestic and international trade that will help Afghanistan grow economically.

USTR officials will meet with a number of women-owned businesses in Afghanistan and listen to their concerns and ideas for improving the Afghan economy. Empowering women to take a more active role in Afghanistan’s economy and promote peace, stability, and security is critical to our efforts to stabilize the nation and provide for a more prosperous future for its children.

USTR’s work in Afghanistan is a part of the Obama Administration’s larger mission to secure market access, trade and investment opportunities, and to ensure a fair marketplace for American companies, efforts that support thousands of American jobs. These efforts also signify the important role that trade can play in the reconstruction of a fragile economy like Afghanistan and help to promote economic development of our trade partners. Furthermore, the increases in exports to both countries are indicative of the advances made though the National Export Initiative, President Obama’s goal to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.