Economic development in Afghanistan depends on a steady supply of trade with other countries. Exports, in particular, provide a steady stream of revenue to Afghanistan. Customs procedures at Kabul International Airport are a key contributor to trade. In 2010, there were in excess of 10,000 goods declarations processed through the airport. USAID worked with the Afghan Customs Department to reduce and eliminate unnecessary steps that were slowing trade through customs. Thirty-two steps were identified as needed to move goods through the airport. USAID reviewed these steps and determined that many were unnecessary. USAID was able to remove 10 steps.
The number of steps and amount of time for traders to move their goods through customs was a hindrance to their success. Some items, such as perishable goods, lost value as they waited at customs.
“I’m very impressed with this,” said trader Said Haji Pardes, “Before, our commodities would remain for two days in customs, but since the unneeded steps were removed, we can load and reload our commodities on the same day. Now we are able to finish our document procedure within two hours. I wish to have this system in all of Afghanistan customs borders.”
These initial reform measures represent a 32 percent reduction (imports) and 28 percent reduction (exports) in the import/export clearance processes at the airport. The monetized benefits for legitimate trade (at importation) are at about 5,767 afghani or $128 for every transaction. These efficiency measures have resulted in goods being cleared at a 45 percent faster rate, saving Customs’ and traders’ valuable time. The reforms have received support from traders and brokers, with positive feedback received on a regular basis.