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Private Sector Event: Welcoming Remarks
Remarks by Ambassador Said T. Jawad


Embassy of Afghanistan
05/25/2004

The eagerness of the international community and the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to bring economic stability to the country have laid the foundation for successful business development. As many of you have already discovered, there are many business and investment opportunities in Afghanistan. The country’s agricultural, infrastructure, services, and natural resources sectors present many profitable business opportunities and room for future growth.

The people of Afghanistan adopted principles of a free market economy in the new constitution and the Government has taken concrete steps to implement that vision. Thus, the growth of the private sector is a high priority for the Government. The private sector must be the driver of economic growth and reform efforts are focusing on removing obstacles to private sector development. In preparation for the donor conference in Berlin, the Afghan government, in conjunction with international organization, drafted “Securing Afghanistan’s Future,” a comprehensive assessment of the needs in Afghanistan and key policy issues. This document will serve as the guiding vision for Afghanistan’s short-term and medium development goals and an important goal is private sector development.

The initiation of new businesses is vital for Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts and helping the country become a model for democratic ideals and free market principals. In just two short years, the Afghan government has taken concrete steps to encourage private sector involvement in the reconstruction effort. The Government has expressed its intent on being a policy maker and manager, not an implementer, of projects. Instead, the Government will create opportunities for the private sector to implement many projects.

The importance of private sector development to the stabilization of the country is immeasurable. As a result of the great incentives private sector growth creates, constraints to democratic development in Afghanistan, such as security concerns and the narcotics trade can be eliminated. By creating jobs and new business opportunities, it gives the citizens of Afghanistan hope for their future and promotes regional stability.

Afghanistan is not only an emerging market, but is a gateway to investment in Central Asia. With increasing stability and increasing investments in roads, railways and air routes, entrepreneurs can trade not only with Afghanistan, but also with Central and South Asia. A major part of the reconstruction plan has been connecting the nation to neighboring countries to make it a key transit point in the region. Already, goods are flowing from Central to South Asia, from India to Iran and back. Thus, by investing in Afghanistan, you are not only accessing a market of 25 million, but a market of 150 million just in the areas immediately surrounding Afghanistan. Afghanistan is becoming a trading hub for the region and with the further improvement of transit, transportation, customs and other reforms, will continue to become important in facilitating regional trade.

The country’s developmental challenges are many, but they are not insurmountable. Security in some areas, lack of clarity regarding administrative structure, and lack of information are just some of the challenges that businesses may face. However, for those who are patient, have a long-term plan and vision and create and work with Afghans to create partnerships, there are many opportunities for successful enterprises and investments in Afghanistan.

Events like this evening’s reception show that there is great interest in private sector involvement in Afghanistan. The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan is committed to promoting and nurturing the growth of its business community and appreciates the effort that the private sector has made to pursue opportunities, develop businesses, work with the Afghan private sector, and with the Government. I want to personally thank each of you for being part of the vision for a new Afghanistan.

At this time, I would like to recognize the effort of a U.S. company -Domes International- who has recently donated a unique dome structure to the Government of Afghanistan to serve as the headquarters of the country’s new National Standards Institute. The NSI will focus on creating and enforcing international standards to help bring Afghan products up to par with that of the global community, as well as to avoid the dumping of substandard products in Afghanistan. Domes has not only manufactured the facility to the Government’s specifications, but provided shipping and installation. They have done this to show their commitment to being involved in Afghanistan and we wish them success in investing in Afghanistan. I would also like to thank the Department of Commerce’s Afghanistan Reconstruction and Investment Task Force and Sheffield Advisors for helping to organize this event.

The Government of Afghanistan is grateful to the international business community for helping the country open the door to prolonged prosperity and we hope that this event and future dialogue facilitated at the Embassy will keep that door open.

Thank you.