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Afghanistan’s Taliban will create special economic zones out of former military bases

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The Taliban-run government in Afghanistan claims to be converting some former foreign military installations into business-friendly economic zones.

Since the Taliban regained control of the nation in August 2021, Afghanistan has experienced a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis.

The nation had been occupied by foreign military forces for 20 years.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the temporary deputy prime minister for economic affairs, made the announcement.

In order to turn the remaining foreign forces’ military bases into special economic zones, it was decided that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should gradually assume control of them, according to a statement from Mullah Baradar on Sunday.

Without providing any further information, he added that the project will start with locations in the northern Balkh province and the capital city of Kabul.

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If it wants to improve its administration and gain some domestic legitimacy, the Taliban “devastatingly needs to boost its coffers,” Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Rahman of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore told the BBC.

“The Taliban must more importantly demonstrate their dedication to economic planning. For potential foreign investors, like the Chinese, this entails creating safe zones near the capital and borders. It also entails reviving regional trade with nearby nations “Added he.

According to estimates, Afghanistan is home to natural resources worth more than $1 trillion (£831.5 billion), including rare earths, copper, and natural gas.

However, because of the country’s protracted instability, a large portion of those reserves remain untapped.

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The final US military flight from Afghanistan in August 2021 signaled the conclusion of the country’s 20-year presence there and its longest war.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict, and millions more have been displaced.

Afghanistan’s finances have since been severely impacted by a number of other significant problems since the withdrawal of foreign military forces. Government officials have been sanctioned, the central bank’s foreign assets have been frozen, and the majority of the foreign aid that had previously boosted the country’s economy has been suspended.

The Taliban announced earlier this year that it intended to work with a Chinese company to drill for oil in northern Afghanistan.

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The 25-year agreement highlights China’s economic presence in the area.

Beijing has substantial interests in Afghanistan, which is at the center of a region crucial to China’s Belt and Road Initiative but has not officially recognized the Taliban government there.

The initiative, started by Xi Jinping in 2013, offers funding to developing nations so they can build infrastructure like ports, roads, and bridges.

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