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Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is facing crucial challenges, but has also important opportunities lying ahead. This is the main message from PN member Ramazan Jumazada’s speech at the Argus Caspian and Central Asian Petroleum Markets 2014 Conference.
Held on February 5 and 6 in Dubai, the conference brought together key Caspian and Central Asian market participants in order to explore cross-border trading opportunities.
Ramazan Jumazada, Member of the Afghan National Assembly, focused in his speech on Afghanistan’s achievements, challenges and opportunities.
Afghanistan has achieved two successful presidential and parliamentary elections in the past decades, he highlighted. With regard to the military, the country built up more than 350,000 national security forces. Progress has also been achieved on the economic level: per capita GDP increased from 115 USD in 2001 to 678 USD in 2012. Furthermore, Afghanistan is well on its way to joining the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Government of Afghanistan is currently in the third stage of the accession process and expects that the country will become a member of the WTO by the end of 2014.
While important achievements have been made, Afghanistan is facing important challenges: the country is undergoing a threefold transition process, on the political, security and economic level. 2014 will be the year of presidential elections and the transfer of political power from President Karzai to his successor. NATO forces will withdraw and Afghan forces will take over in a context of ongoing insurgency. At the same time, there will be an economic transition with significant reduction of NATO military spending in Afghanistan as a result of the troop’s withdrawal. NATO has spent more than 100 billion dollars a year in Afghanistan, which had a significant economic spillover on the local economy. The uncertainty about 2014 has had a negative impact on foreign investment and contributed to capital flight from Afghanistan to other countries.
Nevertheless, Afghanistan remains hopeful, says PN Member Ramazan Jumazada, that the international community won’t abandon the country but stay committed to contributing to a successful and peaceful decade of transformation. Afghanistan’s natural resources, especially in the mining sector, offer big opportunities for foreign direct investment. Last but not least, Afghanistan is a young country with 60% of its population under 25. And the youth is a factor of change, says PN member Ramazan Jumazada.