New Delhi: The Taliban administration is working to boost exports to save the Afghan economy from collapse, with a government official saying international humanitarian aid alone won’t prevent the country from slipping deeper into poverty.
“Humanitarian aid cannot solve Afghanistan’s economic problems. The only way to achieve economic self-sufficiency is to boost domestic products and export them abroad,” the Taliban deputy foreign minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai told a gathering in Kabul Sunday.
Stanekzai’s comments mark a shift in a country where foreign aid makes up more than 40% of the economy, according to data from the World Bank. The attempt to move toward self-sufficiency also comes as Afghanistan has lost access to its foreign reserves of around $9 billion after the U.S. froze them following the Taliban take-over in August.
In 2020, the country imported most of its essential items worth around $9 billion. Exports accounted for just over $800 million and consisted of agricultural products such as pine nuts and dried fruits mainly to China, Pakistan and Iran.
As the economy has fallen apart over the last four months, the United Nations has warned that more than half the country’s nearly 40 million people are facing acute hunger and a million children could die as a consequence.
Stanekzai once again blamed the U.S. for the chaos and called on it to release the funds the belong to “Afghan people.”
Under a new measure to bypass the Taliban, the U.S. is planning to deliver aid directly to the Afghan people. The Biden administration said last week it would expand ways aid groups can help ease a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis in the country.
The Taliban also appear to be easing their stance on women’s rights, with a promise to end restrictions next year on teenage girls trying to access schools, according to Nazar Mohammad Urfan, a spokesman of Ministry of Education. The move could see more foreign aid pour into the country. –Bloomberg