International Trade Figures

After the collapse of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghanistan opened up to international trade. The state has established very few trade barriers on imported products, and tariffs have remained stable in 2016 given weak imports. However, the poor state of the infrastructure, a commercial and legal framework, which remains underdeveloped, and persistent insecurity act as trade barriers.

Afghanistan’s bid to become a member of the WTO has nonetheless been approved by the members of the organization. In addition, the IMF and Afghanistan have been working since 2010 on the implementation of economic policies to improve the country’s trade balance.

With an increase in exports and slower growth in imports (due to weaker domestic demand), the Central Statistical Organization of Afghanistan estimates that the trade deficit rose from -36.7% of GDP in 2015 to -35% of GDP in 2016 (with a trade deficit of 7.151 billion US dollars).

international business profile of Afghanistan

Exports of traditional Afghan products, such as dried fruits, carpets, cotton, cereals and non-alcoholic beverages, have increased since 2013. Nevertheless, the value of imports remains four times higher than exports and without international aid, Afghanistan would have a large trade deficit.

The development of trade with Central Asia and Iran could increase exports, as the opening of a new railway line connecting China to Afghanistan through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The top destinations for Afghan exports are Pakistan (33% of total exports), India (28%) and Turkey (7%), followed by Iran, the UAE and Russia.

While in Afghanistan most consumer goods are imported, world prices and exchange rate movements tend to strongly influence domestic price developments. The main goods imported by Afghanistan are oil, machinery and equipment, food and basic metals. Afghanistan imports consumer goods worth about US $ 11.5 billion annually and Iranian products account for 22% of total imports. On import, the other main partners are Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Indicators of foreign trade20132014201520162017
Imports of goods (million USD)8724772955719.1507,700
Exports of goods (million USD)515571470520780
Imports of services (millions of USD)2.002180916861.1821516
Exports of services (millions of USD)1391931799431324
Imports of goods and services (annual growth in%)-8-10526n / A
Exports of goods and services (annual growth in%)19-92-0n / A
Trade balance (excluding services) (millions USD)81996393703659706307
Foreign trade (% of GDP)56525656n / A
Imports of goods and services (as% of GDP)50464949n / A
Exports of goods and services (as% of GDP)6777n / A

Source: WTO – World Trade Organization ; World Bank.

Main Partner Countries

Principal clients 
(% of exports)
2016
Pakistan47.5%
India38.6%
Iran3.2%
Turkey2.0%
Iraq1.9%
Other countries6.9%

 

Main suppliers 
(% of imports)
2016
Iran19.4%
Pakistan18.3%
China16.7%
kazakhstan9.5%
Uzbekistan6.1%
Other countries29.9%

Source: Comtrade.

Main Products Traded

$ 0.6 billion worth of products exported in 2016
Grapes, fresh or dried16.2%
Vegetable saps and extracts; pectic substances, …14.4%
Nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not …9.4%
Textile mats, knotted or otherwise …6.5%
Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangos …5.7%
Other products47.8%

 

USD 6.5 billion worth of products imported in 2016
Wheat or meslin10.2%
Peat, incl. Litter peat, whether or not agglomerated …9.2%
Braids of textile, in the piece; articles …5.1%
Animal or vegetable fats and oils and their …4.8%
Petroleum gases4.5%
Other products66.2%

Source: Comtrade.

International agreements and customs procedures

International economic cooperation

  • Member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (ASEACR)
  • Member of the Regional Economic Cooperation of Central Asia (CERAC)
  • Member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation (ECO)
  • Member of the World Trade Organization (since July 2016)

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