KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- The U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council met on March 27 and 28 in Kabul, Afghanistan. In effect since 2004, the TIFA Council is the premier U.S.-Afghanistan dialogue dedicated to growing our trade and investment relationship. The U.S. TIFA delegation was led by Special Trade Representative Michael Delaney of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Minister of Commerce and Industries Humayoon Rasaw led the Afghanistan delegation.
Over the course of the TIFA meeting, the two delegations discussed a wide array of trade and investment related topics, including:
- a review of trade and investment trends in Afghanistan;
- the status of key commercial legislation related to Afghanistan’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO);
- U.S. assistance for the WTO implementation process;
- updates on intellectual property laws and opportunities to cooperate in customs enforcement and intellectual property awareness;
- trade facilitation, including the status of implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) and the International Road Union’s Transportes Internationaux Routiers, or TIR Convention;
- government procurement procedures; ease of doing business concerns such as taxes, business licenses, contract sanctity and enforcement, insolvency, and corruption; and
- challenges, opportunities, and solutions in key sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and telecoms.
The U.S. also presented an overview of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) preferential market access program, Afghanistan’s current GSP utilization, and opportunities for expanded use of this program. Throughout these discussions, the need for inclusive growth – including recognition of the crucial role of women in growing trade and fostering economic growth as well as due regard for the rights of workers – was emphasized.
In addition to recognizing the vital importance of fostering a regulatory and legal regime that will enable private sector growth, both governments emphasized the central importance of growing Afghanistan’s external trade and investment and, in this regard, the full and effective implementation of the 2010 Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA). The two governments also discussed the importance of fully implementing Afghanistan’s Open Access policy in the telecoms sector and the need for a transparent and efficient tendering process for the extractives sector.
Both governments reaffirmed the importance of the TIFA Council and its role in increasing bilateral trade and investment and their continued support for the TIFA and related initiatives. They committed to future discussion on the timing and agenda of the next TIFA Council meeting, to be convened in the United States.
Background: Afghanistan is currently the United States’ 93rd largest goods trading partner with $947 million in total (two-way) goods trade during 2016. U.S. goods exports totaled $913 million; goods imports from Afghanistan totaled $34 million. The U.S. goods trade surplus with Afghanistan was $880 million in 2016.