As Afghanistan confronts isolation and the suspension of some humanitarian activities due to restrictions on women, the Taliban administration will promote self-sufficiency and seeks international trade and investment, according to the acting commerce minister.
He told Reuters, “We will launch a national self-sufficiency program, we would push all government administrations to use local products, and we will also try to persuade people to support our domestic products through mosques.”
“We will support any measure that will enable us to be self-sufficient.”
Another part of their strategy was to boost trade and foreign investment, he said.
He said, “Those who were bringing goods into Afghanistan from overseas are asking us to give them opportunities to invest here and they want to invest here instead of bringing goods in from elsewhere.”
He claimed that nations interested in commerce and investment including Iran, Russia, and China.
Some of the projects, according to him, included thermal power plants and industrial parks in China, as well as participation from Russia and Iran.
Already facing a lack of formal recognition and sanctions hampering the country’s banking sector, investors are faced with growing security concerns after attacks on foreign targets in Kabul, claimed by ISIS.
An attack on a hotel catering to Chinese businessmen this month, which badly hurt several foreigners, could prompt some to re-think investing, a leading member of the Chinese business community has said.
Azizi said authorities were working to ensure security.
“We do our best for our businessmen to not come to harm. The attack hasn’t had any bad impact, (but) if it happened constantly, yes it might have a bad impact,” he said, referring to the investment environment.
Azizi laid out a plan to develop the industry by creating special economic zones on land previously used for US military bases. He said his ministry was presenting the plan to the administration’s cabinet and economic commission.
He added that foreign investors were showing interest in Afghanistan’s mining sector, which has been valued at more than $1 trillion. He said that an iron mine in western Herat and a lead mine in central Ghor province had seen 40 companies take part in an auction and that the results would be announced soon.
According to a significant contract for the supply of gas, oil, and wheat inked with Russia in September, these commodities will soon be delivered to Afghanistan.
As a result of increasing restrictions on women’s participation in public life, including university attendance, the Taliban-led government is coming under further international pressure.
A ban on female NGO employees has caused chaos in the humanitarian sector, which is urgently providing relief to millions of people. Some organizations have suspended activities in the middle of the bitter winter.
Azizi claimed his government had allotted 5 acres of property for a permanent exposition center and hub for women-owned firms, but he would not comment on the new limits.