Afghan products hailed in Chinese market, bringing new hope

KABUL (Xinhua): Eying China’s vast market, Afghan craftsman Bustan Barati has decided to increase the capacity of his small carpet-weaving workshop in a slum on the outskirts of his country’s capital of Kabul.
Barati’s workshop started exporting carpets to China in 2013. “So far, we have sold about 5,000 meters of carpets to the Chinese market, which means 30 percent of our products are sold there.”
Born and raised in the slum, Barati said his life has changed a lot for his booming carpet business in China, which has earned him enough money to build a new house and buy a car.
Barati then planned to distribute raw materials to people living around and lead them to weave carpets together.
During the past two decades, the US-led military operations in Afghanistan have caused more than 30,000 civilian deaths and turned about 11 million people into refugees, leaving Afghanistan in desperate need of stability and rehabilitation.
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said earlier this year that Afghanistan was facing a potential non-reversible economic collapse, a frozen banking system and liquidity shortage, leaving as many as 80 percent of people in debt.
An estimated 97 percent of Afghans could be living in poverty by mid-2022, and regrettably, the number was being reached faster than anticipated, Steiner said.
Vice president of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Investment Khan Jan Alokozay told Xinhua that China’s welcome of Afghan goods such as carpets and pine nuts will undoubtedly lead to the recovery of the Afghan economy and benefit the Afghan people who are suffering from hunger and poverty.
Afghanistan used to export 10,000 tons of pine nuts to China each year. Despite that the country’s exports were disrupted last year, that to China more or less resumed at the end of October with the first air shipment of 45 tons of pine nuts.
At the fourth China International Import Expo in 2021, 120,000 bottles of Afghan pine nuts were snapped up as soon as they were showcased. Thousands of Afghans are now working with more than a dozen nut processing factories.
Alokozay is no stranger to China International Import Expo as he has participated in the event twice.
“The organizers have provided us with high-quality booths and logistics services,” Alokozay said. “It is a unique exhibition in the world and has played a very positive role in enhancing the recognition of Afghan goods in the Chinese market.”
Shabnam, who works at a dried fruit processing plant in Kabul, is also hopeful about the Chinese market.
“As our products sale is good in the Chinese market, the salary I earn from working here is not only enough to support myself, but also help my family, which is very important to us because of the bad economic situation in Afghanistan,” Shabnam said.