U.S. freezing of Afghan assets undermines small businesses in Afghanistan
Afghans said the U.S. sanctions on Afghanistan have badly undermined businesses and worsened the country's already fragile economy.
"Scores of people including 50 women worked in my firm to produce pickle in the past, but nowadays only two persons are working with me," female Afghan entrepreneur Nafas Gul Jami said with a sigh.
Putting on display her products in a stall at a three-day Agricultural Products Exhibition which opened here on Saturday, Jami said the U.S. sanctions on Afghanistan have badly undermined businesses and worsened the country's already fragile economy.
"The female Afghan businesspersons are in need of economic support and encouragement, and we need to find markets for our products to boost our businesses," she said.
The 45-year-old woman pointed to an increasing poverty, a high rate of unemployment, isolation of Afghanistan and freeze of 7-billion-U.S. dollar assets of the war-torn country by the United States following the U.S. military defeat and troop withdrawal from the Central Asian nation in August last year.
In a decree issued in February, U.S. President Joe Biden allocated 3.5 billion U.S. dollars from the frozen Afghan assets to the 9/11 victims' families and earmarked another 3.5 billion U.S. dollars as humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
The decision, which has further exacerbated Afghanistan's economic woes, has been widely condemned in Afghanistan.
More than 22 million Afghans out of the country's some 35-million population, according to aid agencies, are facing acute food shortages and the war-torn country would face a humanitarian catastrophe if not assisted.
"I am the owner of a bee farm in the central Daykundi province but I had no activity over the past six months due to economic miseries," said businesswoman Zahra Naemi.
Naemi, 30, who has hired 10 people including six women in her farm, collected 1,000 kg honey in past years but her products reduced to 400 kg so far this year.
"The purchasing power of people has been reduced almost to zero and they can't afford to buy honey and that was why I have sold 400 kg at half price," Naemi complained.
She assumed that like her, many businesspersons suffered due to lack of market, economic hardships and sanctions imposed on Afghanistan.
Mohammad Hamid Samadi, an Afghan businessman who runs a saffron producing company, told Xinhua that he exported saffron to 25 countries in the past years but his company's income has drastically reduced due to the shattered economy.
"Freezing of Afghan assets has led to capital outflow and eventually to a worsening economy and an increase in poverty in the country," Samadi said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister of the Afghan caretaker government Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said the country is committed to supporting farmers and the agricultural sector.