Afghanistan flag Afghanistan: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Afghanistan

Foreign Trade in Figures

After the collapse of the Taliban Government in 2001, Afghanistan opened up to international trade. The state had very few commercial barriers for imported products, and customs duties had been kept flat given weak imports. The share of trade was estimated at 51% of GDP in 2021 (World Bank, latest data available). Afghanistan traditionally exports items with low value, such as dried fruit, carpets, cotton, cereals, and non-alcoholic beverages. Its main items of import include wheat, peat, textiles, and petroleum products. Although not officially recorded, opium remains the main export of the country, but its production was drastically reduced in 2023. According to the World Bank, in 2023, Afghanistan's exports totaled USD 1.9 billion, marking a slight 0.4% increase from the previous year. Coal exports, which contributed significantly in 2022 with USD 476 million, experienced a notable 46% reduction to USD 257 million in 2023. Conversely, food exports grew by 13% to USD 1.3 billion, while textile exports surged by 46% to USD 281 million. Pakistan and India remained the primary export destinations, with shares of 54% and 31%, respectively. However, exports to Pakistan declined by 15% to USD 1.0 billion, with 70% of these exports comprising food and coal. Food exports to India saw a remarkable 43% increase, reaching USD 578 million in 2023, helping to offset the decline in exports to Pakistan. In 2023, imports surged to USD 7.8 billion, marking a significant 23% increase from the previous year's imports of USD 6.3 billion. Food imports, comprising 22% of the total, grew by 9% to USD 1.7 billion, including key items such as cereal, edible vegetables, malt, starches, inulin, wheat gluten, and tobacco. Minerals, contributing 20% to total imports, rose by 15% from USD 1.3 billion in 2022 to USD 1.6 billion in 2023, with fuel, mineral oils, salt, and sulfur being notable components. Textile imports increased by 11%, reaching USD 0.72 billion in 2023. Food, textiles, and minerals collectively accounted for over half of imports. Chemicals, machinery, and transportation products experienced significant import growth of 37%, 63%, and 85%, respectively, in 2023. Iran was the largest import origin country (23%), followed by Pakistan (19%), China (15%), and the United Arab Emirates (15%). The overall merchandise trade deficit for 2023 widened by 34% to USD 5.9 billion, compared to USD 4.4 billion in 2022.

The poor state of its infrastructure, a legal and business framework that is still under development, and continued insecurity act as de facto trade barriers. Nonetheless, at the end of 2015, Afghanistan's application to join the WTO was approved by its member states. The development of trade with Central Asia and Iran could increase exports along with the opening of a new railway linking China to Afghanistan via Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In February 2023, the main border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been closed.

Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 6,7776,5385,3085,5296,064
Exports of Goods (million USD) 864777850819903
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,2131,105000
Exports of Services (million USD) 652700000

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Trade Balance (million USD) -5,595-5,932-5,746-5,294-5,101
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -6,191-6,804-6,378-5,855-5,507

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

International Economic Cooperation
Member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

Member of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC)

Member of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)

Member of the World Trade Organization (since July 2016)


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
India 47.1%
Pakistan 34.3%
China 3.6%
Türkiye 2.9%
United Arab Emirates 2.9%
See More Countries 9.3%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 13.9%
Pakistan 12.9%
United States 9.1%
Turkmenistan 8.1%
Kazakhstan 6.1%
See More Countries 49.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2024. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2024. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: April 2024