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Editorial: Lifeblood forthe Afghan economy

In a land-locked state like Afghanistan with never-ending war, an opportunity to boost the economy means a lifeline to survival. When a country persistently experiences a trade deficit, there are predictable negative consequences that can affect economic growth and stability. Fortunately, Afghanistan’s trade deficit has been narrowed over 2017-18 to $6.96 billion, with exports rising to $832 million, up from $596 million a year earlier, growing faster than imports.Our motherland possesses the potential to revive the economy and feasibly achieve trade surplus – only if proper heed is paid and the regional countries cooperate. Afghanistan has exported 255 tons of fresh fruits so far this year to India, Europe and some Arab nations, making a 30 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018. This hike in the exports is said to have been the result of the inauguration of air corridors between Afghanistan and India, UAE, China and Turkey.Apples, pomegranates, melons, watermelons and grapes constitute the main fresh fruits that are exported to India, China, UAE and some European countries along with some dried fruits and medicinal herbs.It is reported related ministry is eying up an increase in the exports by the end of the year – which is a good omen for the country. According to figures, at least 7,400 tons of Afghan goods worth $170 million have been exported to India, some European countries and the UAE through air corridors over the past two years.As the inauguration of air routes with some countries have proven effective and promising for the Afghan trade, there are now calls forthe establishment of air corridors with Russia and Kazakhstan. Despite these positive improvements, Afghan investors demand more modern facilities for Afghan goods in the country’s main airports and dry ports. Moreover, the absence of adequate cold storage facilities and required scanners is deemed a major challenge for Afghan investors and traders. Working on these facilities should take center stage in the Afghan government’s priorities and should be the focus of economic policies of the country. Another crucial aspect and factor that can potentially contribute to narrowing Afghanistan’s trade deficit and lead to future self-reliance by doing away with foreign aid,is to pave the way for opening up ground routes for exportation. Particularly, the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) should be collaborated upon. As there have been recent promises made to deepen the trade relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan after President Ghani’s visit to the neighboring country in June, the country should now deliver on its promises to give access to Afghan exports across its territory to East Asia. Meanwhile, there is a need for accelerated investment to make the Chabahar Port fully operational, as well as pay attention to western ports of the country to find ground access to West Asia, Caucasia and further into Europe.If exports are more in demand than imports, there are also multiple job opportunities created domestically for Afghan youth.

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