The Office of the United States Trade Representative

United States and Afghanistan Sign Trade and Investment Framework Agreement
Contact: Richard Mills/Neena Moorjani (202) 395-3230 09/21/2004

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 economically."

"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 issues.

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.