WASHINGTON - Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Ashley Wills and
Afghanistan's Minister of Commerce, Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, signed a Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) today in Kabul that provides a forum for
Afghanistan and United States to examine ways to expand bilateral trade and
investment. U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick initiated the
negotiation of this agreement during Afghan President Karzai's last visit to
Washington, and Ambassador Wills continued discussions with Afghanistan during
his July visit to Kabul.
"I am pleased that we have reached agreement on this TIFA. President Karzai's
government is making a major effort to integrate Afghanistan into the
international economy," said Zoellick in Washington. "The TIFA is not only
indicative of President Karzai's focus on economic reconstruction but of
President Bush's unflagging commitment to assist Afghanistan develop
"This TIFA will provide us an opportunity to work together to expand trade
between our two countries. TIFAs have proven to be useful catalysts for
promoting the kinds of economic and regulatory reform that have contributed to
expanding opportunity, development and hope," said Ambassador Wills. "We believe
the U.S.-Afghan TIFA will enhance trade between our two countries and assist
Afghanistan as it seeks to grow and diversify its economy."
The TIFA creates a Joint Council that will consider a wide range of
commercial issues and sets out basic principles underlying the two nations'
trade and investment relationship. The Council will establish a permanent
dialogue with the expectation of expanding trade and investment between the
United States and Afghanistan. The United States has TIFAs with a number of
countries to enhance bilateral trade and coordinate regionally and
multilaterally through regular senior level discussions on trade and economic
Last year U.S. goods exports to Afghanistan were $61 million and imports were
$56 million, which provides an environment for a substantial opportunity to
increase bilateral trade. President Bush designated Afghanistan as a participant
in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a 30 year old bipartisan program
created by Congress. The program's tariff preferences provide an enhanced
opportunity for Afghan imports to compete in our market.