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Kandahar businesses mull moving abroad amid economic pain

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KABUL: Economic woes in Afghanistan have created an uncertain environment for local businesses in Kandahar with many founders planning to move their businesses to either Pakistan or Iran.

Deputy Director of Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Industry Nematullah Nemat says challenges such as constant power outage have paralyzed the private sector.

This is as joint Afghanistan-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce said that Islamabad is considering issuing a five-year visa for Afghan businesspeople. “There is a five-year visa for investors who want to invest in Pakistan,” said Naqibullah Sapai, head of the joint chamber.

After Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, businesses having been facing a lot of hardship due to insecurity, electricity shortage, supply chain disruption, as well as loss of investments and customers.

Meanwhile, economists warned that the transfer of Afghan business investment to foreign countries is not in the interest of Afghanistan.

“In fact, Pakistan wants to extend its control and take control of Afghan trade and markets and open a way to Central Asia,” said Sayed Masoud, an economist.

A factory owner who invested USD 3.5 million was forced to halt his business operations due to lack of electricity.

“We are lost about what to do and which direction to follow. Nothing happened during the past 20 years,” said Mohammad Naeem, the owner of the factory.

To prevent the transfer of investment from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Islamic Emirate must provide essential facilities for the businesspeople.

“We don’t want other countries to give licenses to our merchants. We want our business people to remain in the country, but the Islamic Emirate should provide essential facilities,” said Mohammad Younus, head of the chamber.

Younus said that many Afghan investors moved their businesses abroad mainly to Turkey and the UAE.

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