ITC, ESCAP join forces to support Afghanistan’s WTO accession

27 March 2014
ITC News

Trade plays a vital role in improving and reconstructing the economy of Afghanistan, even as it remains reliant on aid for trade. The Central Asian country has been an accession candidate to the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2004. 

As part of Afghanistan’s efforts to accede to the WTO, the International Trade Centre (ITC) is working with the public and private sectors in the country to advance implementation of its WTO commitments, but also to support trade facilitation measures.

As part of a technical capacity-building workshop in Delhi from 11-13 March, organized by ITC and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), participants made field visits to trade facilities to learn about processes that enable companies to succeed in international trade. This was the fourth workshop of its kind in Delhi.

The workshop focused on creating awareness among Afghan public and private-sector stakeholders to opportunities resulting from the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and implementation of post-accession commitments.

‘The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to familiarize themselves with institutions and processes that facilitate participation in global trade,’ said Rajesh Aggarwal, ITC’s Chief of Business and Trade Policy.

‘Afghanistan’s integration to the global markets is integral for growth and economic prosperity,’ said Sayed Mujtaba Ahmadi, Economic Counsellor at the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi, at the opening of the workshop.

Visiting facilities, sharing information

On the first day of the workshop, the Afghan delegation, comprising representatives of government and business, visited an inland container depot in Dadri, one of the largest multi-model logistics support centres responsible for facilitating India’s international trade. The depot handles the transhipment of cargo to sea ports with a network of more than 63 terminals. The delegation received information about the depot’s logistics and operations.

The participants visited the Bureau of Indian Standards on the second day, where they learned about how the organization works as the country’s national enquiry point for WTO technical barriers to trade. The visit provided an opportunity to discuss the standard-formulation and certification roles of the Bureau, with concrete examples on how these are implemented. The visit resulted in the discussion of opportunities for long-term training of Afghan experts in quality and standards.

The three-day workshop concluded with a visit to the Confederation of Indian Industry and the DHL Express India offices at the Indira Gandhi International Airport cargo terminal, where participants learned about courier-expedited shipping processes.

During the visit to the Confederation of Indian Industry, a business association with more than 7,100 members, representatives of the Confederation shared industry insights and details about its objective to partner with industry, government, and civil society through advisory and consultative processes.