The Taliban administration will move forward with plans to turn former foreign military bases into special economic zones for businesses, the executive deputy prime minister for economic affairs said in a statement on Sunday.
The acting commerce minister told Reuters in December that his ministry was working on a plan for the former US bases and would submit it to the cabinet and the economic committee led by acting deputy prime minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar for approval.
“After detailed discussions, it was decided that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce should progressively take control of the remaining military bases of the foreign military with the intention of converting them into special economic zones,” Mulla Baradar said in the statement.
He said a pilot scheme would begin to replace the bases in the capital Kabul and northern Balkh province.
Afghanistan’s economy is struggling and aid agencies are warning of a grave humanitarian crisis after the Taliban take power in 2021 as foreign forces withdraw after 20 years of war.
The takeover cut development funding, froze foreign-held central bank assets and placed restrictions on the banking sector.
The Taliban administration’s decision last year to bar most female NGO workers from work prompted many aid agencies to partially suspend operations, while millions of people depend on humanitarian aid.
The Taliban have said they are focused on increasing economic self-reliance through trade and investment. Some foreign investors have expressed concern over a series of attacks, including one on a hotel popular with Chinese businessmen, claimed by the Islamic State.
However, the World Bank has also noted that exports increased and the Taliban administration managed to keep revenues largely stable in 2022.