EU and Afghanistan sign deal on WTO accession
Accession to the WTO is expected to make a lasting contribution to the process of stabilisation, economic reform and sustainable development in Afghanistan.
"I'm convinced that WTO membership will help Afghanistan's stabilisation and economic development. Kabul has continuously highlighted its commitment to speeding up its WTO accession process and today's signature in Geneva is a milestone in this respect," said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
The bilateral deal signed by EU Ambassador Angelos Pangratis and Afghanistan's Deputy Minister for Trade Mr Mozammil Shinwari provides for lower tariffs and export duties for goods and for opening up services markets once Afghanistan joins the WTO. These commitments will be then embodied in the future Protocol of Accession of Afghanistan to the WTO.
The EU is one of Afghanistan's main trading partners, accounting for almost 9% of its exports and 12% of its imports. In 2012 the total value of EU goods exported to Afghanistan was €935 million, while imports from Afghanistan amounted to €56 million. Afghanistan mainly supplies the EU market with skins and leather products, fruits/nuts, but also electronic products, which together represent more than 50% of its exports to the EU.
The main EU exports to Afghanistan are vehicles, mineral fuels, machinery and electrical equipment. As a Least Developed Country, all Afghanistan's products (except arms) have duty free and quota free access to the EU market. ■