KABUL: Afghanistan’s national economy saw almost three percent growth in 1398 Solar Year despite of the country’s trade sector faced major challenges.
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.
Economic experts saying that government yet to 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.
In its 2019 report, the Asian Development Bank said Afghanistan’s 2019 economic growth was improving slightly as according to them the country’s agriculture sector was covering, however, heightened security risks and political uncertainty continue to hamper growth in the manufacturing and services sectors.
In an update of its flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019, ADB forecasts Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate at 2.7% in 2019, up from the 2.5% projection in April of 2019. In 2020, GDP growth is expected to accelerate further to 3.4% depending on the situation in the country, the bank said.
“Going forward, Afghanistan can improve its economic growth by boosting infrastructure development, improving the business environment, enhancing domestic revenue collection, and creating more employment opportunities,” according to ADB Country Director for Afghanistan Narendra Singru.
The Bank also said that favorable weather allowed agriculture to recover from last year’s drought stronger than expected.
With rising production in agriculture, an upturn in household income is expected to support growth in private consumption.