Afghan Envoy Urges China to Open Trade to Ease Crisis



Colum Murphy, Eltaf Najafizada, and Sabrina Mao | Bloomberg News

Afghanistan’s top diplomat in Beijing called on China to let in more of its agricultural products, saying that expanded trade would do more to ease a humanitarian crisis next door than fiscal aid. 

Ambassador Javid Qaem, a holdover from the Islamic Republic government that fell to the Taliban, said in an interview Friday more flexible trade rules on the Chinese side and better logistics could help Afghanistan expand its annual exports of agricultural products like pine nuts from $500 million to as much as $2 billion of annual trade with its larger neighbor. 

He urged China to expand air shipments of pine nuts that resumed last month and said the two countries were a “week or two” from agreeing to a similar arrangement for saffron. 

“This is what we really expect from China,” Qaem told Bloomberg News at the embassy in Beijing. “The humanitarian assistance is on one side, but because China is a very good market — and it’s a very big market — what we really expect is trade.”

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