In 2015, Afghanistan faced many problems in different fields. Beside the deterioration of security situation, the economic situation also became worse compare to the past fourteen years. In this year Afghani, unprecedentedly, lost its value, unemployment reached its high levels, investment decreased and these factors all together forced a number of educated youth to leave the country.
In this year, a number of afghan immigrants also returned to the country from the neighboring countries and their number was greater compare to the past six years. Moreover, the government also made efforts to eliminate corruption, where most of its steps were contradictory to each other.
On the other hand, Afghanistan’s foreign policy was far different than compared to the past fourteen years, and it had achievements in some fields, but, in some others, it faced challenges and failures.
How was the general economic situation of the country in 2015, how was the immigration of Afghans from the country and their return from the neighborhood countries, what has the government done against corruption, and what was the direction of the country in foreign policy? All of these things is analyzed in this issue.
According to the statistics of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in 2015, the growth rate of Afghanistan’s GDP (Gross Domestic Products) was 2.5 %, which shows a 1.3 % increase compare to 2015. However, the according to World Bank, the GDP growth was 1.9 %. Industrial products also increased compared to the last year. In addition, due to political and security instabilities, people and investors lose confidence in the government, and the National Unity Government also did not bring its promised reforms.
The Value of Afghani
In 2015, Afghani’s value decreased very much against US dollar. From the formation of National Unity Government to the end of 2014, Afghani’s value against US dollar was approximately 58.18. In the first two months of the 2015, Afghani’s value against US dollar became improved. In January, one US dollar was equal to 57.76 Afghanis and then in February it decreased to 57.4 Afghanis against US dollar.
In the first two months of the New Year, the value of Afghani decreased very much against US dollar and still it is decreasing and now (in the first week on 2016) the value of Afghani against US dollar was 68.78. For further description see the following figure.
According to the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), the amount of investment was decreased by 26% in the first 9 months of 2015 compare to the first 9 months of 2014. In the first 9 months of 2014, $611 million was invested; however, in the first 9 months of 2015, $448 million was invested.
The amount of investment in the construction field decreased by $83 million in the first 9 months of 2015 compare to $200M in 2014, which shows a decrease of 58%. Moreover, investment in the fields of industry, agriculture and services was also decreased by 25, 12 and 9.63 percent accordingly.
The National Unity Government (NUG), in its first months, had made a lot of promises related to tackling corruption. Some of its efforts on tackling corruption were made in 2015, however, the government’s policy in this regard was so rustic and sometimes, its positions were contradictory.
The NUG’s most successful action was establishing National Procurement Commission, which has caused the government to save a lot of money in the contracts.
The government received some amount of money from the Kabul Bank’s debtors during 2015. The Afghan minister of Finance in the SOM Conference said that they have received $228M of debts.
Although, in general, the government did not have one position in struggling against corruption; and due to this reason, the mistake of releasing a key culprit “Khalilullah Ferozi” and signing the contract of building a city took place.
For the first time, cultivation and products of narcotics became decreased in 2015 compared to the past years. According to UNODC’s 2015 annual report, poppy were cultivated in 183000 hectares, which show a decrease of 19% compare to 2014. In addition, the poppy production was 3300 tons which shows a decrease of 48% compare to 2014.
Most of the poppy was cultivated in insecure places; the amount of poppy cultivation was high in Helmand, Farah, Kandahar and Badghis provinces, only 14 Afghan provinces were poppy free and the in the remaining 20 provinces poppy was cultivated.
Decreasing of poppy cultivation was not the policy of the National Unity Government (NUG), but according to a survey of UN, decrease in the poppy production was due to bad harvest.
At the end of 2014, Pakistani insurgents attacked on a military school in Peshawar; as a result Pakistani anti-terrorism policy was changed, with deeply impacted Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Therefore, 95042 unregistered Afghan refugees have repatriated since January of 2015 through Torkham port. But with the passage of time, repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan decreased. On the other hand, roundabout 50000 registered Afghan refugees have repatriated since January of 2015.
Tens of thousands of Afghan youths have also crossed into Europe through dangerous routes in 2015 due to insecurity and unemployment; however, the real number of Afghan refugees which went to Europe in 2015 is unknown, but according to UN estimation, among one million immigrants which went to Europe through crossing the Mediterranean sea, 19% of them were Afghans, which makes about 200000 persons.
The Principles of Kabul’s foreign policy in 2015 were economic integration, maintenance of peace and economic development of the country. In the field of economic integration, CASA-1000 and TAPI projects were initiated in 2015. In the field of transit, the government tried to start the Lapis Lazuli route and Chabahar port that is why the governmental officials went to Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey; the government was successful in this field.
Except for the statement about supporting Saudi Arabia‘s position in the issue of Yemen and ups and downs in relations with Pakistan, Kabul had good ties with entire neighbors in 2015. Meanwhile, its relations were good with regional countries including Turkey, India and Saudi Arabia.
The Afghan government, however, had not got any remarkable achievements regarding peace, but due to change in Kabul’s foreign policy, the Afghan government and the Taliban had a face to face meeting in Murree, near Islamabad; and after the ties between Kabul and Islamabad deteriorated, China and America, then, were trying to make these two neighbors to normalize their relations. Due to these efforts, hopes for reviving the stalled peace process are once again grown.