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Afghanistan: Taliban Plans To Convert Foreign Military Bases Into Special Economic Zones

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The Taliban administration ruling Afghanistan has decided to turn former foreign military bases into special economic zones for businesses, the acting deputy prime minister for economic affairs said on Sunday.

In December, the acting commerce minister told British news agency Reuters that his ministry was designing plans for former American bases and would send it to the economic committee headed by deputy PM Mullah Adul Ghani Baradar and the cabinet for approval.

In a statement, Mullah Baradar said, “Following a thorough discussion, it was decided that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should progressively take control of the remaining military bases of the foreign forces to convert them into special economic zones.”

The pilot work to convert bases would begin in the capital Kabul and northern Balkh province, he added.

Since the Taliban occupied Afghanistan in 2021 as foreign troops withdrew after 20 years of war, the country’s economy has been struggling and aid agencies have been warning of a humanitarian crisis. 

The takeover resulted in the development funding being cut, the freezing of foreign-held central bank assets and sanctions imposed on the banking sector.

The Taliban administration’s decision to abolish female NGO workers from work in 2022 resulted in many aid agencies ceasing their operations, leaving the majority of people without humanitarian aid.

The Taliban stated that they intend to enhance economic self-sufficiency with the help of trade and investment. Some foreign investors worry over a series of attacks, including a hotel popular with Chinese businessmen, taken over by the Islamic State. 

The World Bank also noticed that exports increased and the Taliban administration maintained a steady revenue throughout 2022.

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