The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce has decided to turn down U.S. calls to halt its business with neighbouring Iran, arguing that such a move would cause further damage to Afghanistan’s ailing economy.
Reuters reported on Monday that a U.S. Treasury delegation met with officials from the Afghan Central Bank and the heads of private banks and other financial institutions in Afghanistan to urge them to stop dealing with companies that have been targeted by U.S. sanctions.
The Vice Chairman of Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce, Khan Jan Alokozai, was quoted as saying: “There hasn’t been a direct warning from the U.S. … but if an official request comes from the U.S. government I am sure the Afghan government will be clear in its quick reaction against it.”
Alokozai insisted that cutting business with Iran would throw the Afghan economy into “crisis.”
Reuters reports that despite tense political relations, Afghanistan is heavily reliant on Iranian food, energy and other imports.
The report adds that with the exit of foreign troops in 2014 and the reduction of Western aid to Afghanistan, commercial relations between Iran and Afghanistan are bound to expand.
The Aryan Bank, the National Iranian Oil Company and the operator of Iran’s Bandar Abbas port, which handles a large volume of goods bound for Afghanistan, are three main Iranian entities under U.S. sanctions that have interests in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Central Bank Governor has announced that the Afghan Foreign Ministry and Afghanistan’s Security Council are now considering the issue of halting business with Aryan Bank.