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Cablegate: Minister Announces Afghan Gsp Designation at 1/16

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000133

SIPDIS

ISLAMABAD FOR KABUL SUPPORT UNIT
NSC FOR ZKHALILZAD, JDWORKEN, HMANN, RHANSON
DEPT FOR SA/PAB, SA/AR
MANILA PLEASE PASS AMB PSPELTZ
USDOC FOR DAS/TD MURPHY AND AFGHAN RECON TASK FORCE
USDOC FOR 4201/ITA/MAC/ASCHYMAN
USDOC FOR 3130/OIO/EUR/SLETTEN
USDOC FOR 3150/OIO/NIS/ZONA
STATE PASS TDA FOR CKRESS AND DSTEIN
STATE PASS TREASURY FOR U/S TAYLOR, LMCDONALD, ACORFIELD
STATE PASS OPIC FOR RCONNELLY AND DZAHNHEISER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD AF EIAD ETIO
SUBJECT: MINISTER ANNOUNCES AFGHAN GSP DESIGNATION AT 1/16
PRESS CONFERENCE

1. (U) On January 16, Minister of Commerce Seyed Mustafa
Kazimi convened a press conference to announce the
designation of Afghanistan as a U.S. GSP beneficiary country.
Roughly twenty mostly Afghan print media, VOA and six-eight
other radio outlets and four TV outlets were present. USAID
Director Craig Buck, representing the Ambassador, and
Econ/Commercial Officer attended for the Embassy.

2. (U) Kazimi highlighted the progress made during the past
year by Afghanistan in its efforts to resume economic
relations with its neighbors and the world. In addition to
GSP and the Fall 2002 EU &All but Arms8 trade agreement,
Kazimi noted recent regional trade initiatives as well
(discussed septel). Kazimi noted that these efforts were
directed towards transforming Afghanistan from a primarily
consumer nation into a more self-reliant trading nation.

3. (U) Kazimi explained that twenty-three years of crisis had
undermined the foundations of trade and investment, resulting
in a deterioration in both industrial base and the quality of
Afghan goods. This deterioration had rendered Afghan goods
uncompetitive in global markets and led to the eventual loss
of overseas markets. Further, this crisis and the resulting
instability led to imposition of trade sanctions on
Afghanistan by many countries. Kazemi outlined the Afghan
plan to surmount these obstacles. First, to improve
relations with other countries leading to lifting of trade
sanctions. Second, to improve trade links with other
countries to nurture economic growth and resume access to
outside markets. Third, to attract good investment to both
create export-oriented jobs and help improve the quality and
competitiveness of Afghan goods.

4. (U) Kazimi noted that meetings with Commerce Secretary
Evans and other Washington officials, and close work with the
U.S. Embassy over the past five months, had led to the White
House,s announcement on January 10 of Afghanistan,s
designation as a GSP beneficiary country. Kazimi said that
this was an important event for Afghanistan,s plans for
economic growth, and would mean up to 5,700 articles could be
exported to the U.S. duty-free. Kazimi concluded by thanking
President Bush, the Secretary of Commerce and other U.S.
agencies that had supported this step, the Ambassador and the
Economic/Commercial office of the U.S. Embassy.

5. (U) The media questions following Kazimi,s comments were
incisive and well-informed, reflecting a notable maturation
in the quality of the Afghan and regional economic/ financial
media. Questions focused upon Afghanistan,s export
potential, lingering security concerns for investors, customs
policy, GSP within the context of overall U.S. policy towards
Afghanistan, and the impact of GSP on regional and other
Afghan-origin trade flows. Kazimi responded with optimism
about Afghanistan,s potential to attract investment and
build upon its existing export base, reform internal customs
rules and trade relations with neighbors, and improve export
market access and investment flows.
FINN

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