Afghanistan’s national economy saw almost three percent growth in 1398 (the solar year, ending Thursday) but the country’s trade sector faced major challenges.
Economic experts say that despite a relative growth in the national economy, high levels of poverty, and unemployment maintained their grip on the Afghan people.
Based on figures by the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA), in 1398 Afghanistan’s exports slumped by 1.3 percent and the country managed to export only $863 million worth of products to foreign markets.
During this year (1398), Afghanistan’s imports were reported at around $6.7 billion.
“We didn’t see a sustainable growth rate which could help to reduce poverty or boost other areas,” said Mohammad Younus Salik, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy.
Although the Afghan Ministry of Finance recently claimed it had collected nearly 208 billion afghanis in revenue during 1398, the United States Institute of Peace later said these figures and statistics were not credible and put the figure around 180 billion afghanis.
“You saw that 16 billion afs were withdrawn from the central bank, including another 800 million from the Bank-e-Milli, because the actual revenues were less, it means that the government, particularly the Ministry of Finance failed to achieve their target,” said Abdul Qader Jailani, the former spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.
Experts also say that the government did not invest in national infrastructure during 1398.
“Still there is the problem of a lack of electricity, and challenges at customs,” said Sakhi Ahmad Paiman, deputy head of Chamber of Industries and Mines.
Despite hopes that in 1398 there will be some tangible progress on the opening of the Lapis Lazuli corridor and implementation of the CASA-1000 and TAPI projects, problems continue to hinder implementation of these major economic and energy projects.
The Lapis Lazuli Route agreement was signed in October 2017 between Afghanistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The route begins in Afghanistan’s northern Aqina port in Faryab province, and Torghandi in the western province of Herat, and will run through to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan.
Alongside these issues, 1398 was also the year of the spread of the coronavirus, which has had a major impact on the economy domestically and internationally.