Led by Nouriddin Azizi, Minister of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan, a Taliban delegation arrived in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, yesterday to discuss trade and investment opportunities.

The press service of Kazakhstan’s Government says the Afghan delegation members include top managers of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, senior representatives of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS – Afghanistan's national power utility company), Afghan Telecom (AfTel – telecommunications company), Afghanistan Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock Products, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment,  as well as various Afghan pharmaceutical, textile, engineering, and transport-and-logistics companies.  

Kazakh media reports say the business leaders from Kazakhstan and Afghanistan met in Astana yesterday to discuss trade and investment opportunities.  

New Central Asia (nCA) says Afghanistan is a major importer of Kazakh flour and vegetable oil, and the bilateral trade between the two countries has reportedly valued at around US$1 billion.

The Kazakh government is reportedly interested in expanding trade and economic ties with Afghanistan, and there are currently 52 joint ventures between the two countries. Afghanistan is also looking for investment in the energy, infrastructure, and telecommunications sectors.

The Vice Minister of Trade of Kazakhstan, Kairat Torebayev, reportedly said at the opening of a number of business meetings, “Afghanistan is an important and promising partner for Kazakhstan. We are interested in the comprehensive development of trade and economic cooperation.”

Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Nouriddin Azizi, for his part, reportedly noted that Afghanistan is interested in finding business partners and investors from Kazakhstan.

“The Kazakh side provided an excellent opportunity for negotiations between our enterprises from various industries. Within the framework of business meetings, we can expand business ties, discuss needs, trade barriers, as well as the benefits of cooperation,” Azizi said. 

The three-day Kazakh-Afghan business forum kicked off in Astana today.  More 150 Afghan officials and businesspeople are reportedly participating in the forum.

Meanwhile, Radio Liberty’s Kazakh Service reported on August 1 that Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Qanat Tumysh, told reporters on July 31 that the Kazakh-Afghan business forum will not affect Kazakhstan's official stance on the Taliban. The Taliban is officially considered in Kazakhstan to be a terrorist organization, though Astana maintains official contact with Afghanistan's Taliban-imposed government.  Tumysh reportedly said none of the 150 Afghan officials and businesspeople expected at the forum were under international sanctions.