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Afghanistan Business Dialogue
Remarks by Ambassador Said T. Jawad

Embassy of Afghanistan

Ladies and Gentleman:

I welcome you to the first seminar of the Afghanistan Business Dialogue, an initiative of the Embassy of Afghanistan, Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce and Afghan International Chamber of Commerce.

The Dialogue will include at least one event each month, focusing on areas and topics of interest to companies who want to do invest or do business in Afghanistan.

The Embassy of Afghanistan hopes that this dialogue will help facilitate the sharing of information and ideas and will help build a strong coalition of U.S. companies interested in Afghanistan.

After years of conflict and isolation, Afghanistan has re-entered the global marketplace and is quickly becoming reintegrated. The eagerness of the international community and the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to bring economic stability to the country is the foundation for successful business development.

The Afghan government believes that the private sector is the engine for growth in Afghanistan. Reform efforts are focusing on removing obstacles to private sector development.

The Government’s goal is for Afghanistan to become a service center and hub for trade and transit for the region. We are looking to reform more quickly than our neighbors in order to provide a competitive and enabling environment for investment and trade.

With the assistance of the World Bank, the Government of Afghanistan is working on decreasing transit and customs times to facilitate trade.

The Afghan government has also taken the leadership to create three new industrial parks with the assistance of USAID. Not only did the Government offer land, but also invested its own money into the project. These parks offer investors a location where water, power, roads and sewage are available.

One of the challenging areas for Afghanistan has been access to capital. The Afghan government has identified this issue as a priority and has been working with national institutions, donors and NGOs to identify solutions. After years of having no commercial banking sector or venture capital, it is an amazing accomplishment that banking services are now available, loans and insurance are available for investments, and venture capital funds are beginning to focus on the opportunities in Afghanistan.

The Government of Afghanistan has been pleased to work with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. OPIC was one of the first foreign institutions to offer financing for projects in Afghanistan. After initially announcing a $50 million line of credit for Afghanistan, the CEO of OPIC, Dr. Peter Watson, announced the increase to $100 million. OPIC also offers political risk insurance, which protects an investor who is covered from acts of war, political change and even terrorism.

Another positive development was that in April of this year, the Government of Afghanistan and the Government of the United States entered into a new bilateral Investment Incentive Agreement. This agreement provides the legal mechanism whereby OPIC can provide financing and insurance for projects in Afghanistan. The original agreement between our countries dated back to 1958 and needed to be updated to reflect today’s changes in the financial sector. I am happy to announce that the former requirement of obtaining a “foreign government authorization,” which meant that investors had to receive approval for their OPIC-financed project from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been abolished. This is another example of the Afghan government’s commitment to reduce bureaucracy.

Ladies and gentleman, there are many lucrative opportunities in Afghanistan just waiting for investment and those companies that take advantage of programs that exist are well-poised to benefit.

We are pleased that colleagues from OPIC have taken the time to participate in today’s event to give you a better understanding of their programs and the application process.

Our Commercial and Trade Counsel, Mrs. Mariam Nawabi, will be working with AACC and AICC to organize more events like this one. We hope that you will find today’s program informative and useful. Thank you.

I wish you, OPIC, AACC and AICC further success.