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 peaked at 49.2% of GDP in 2018 before falling to 45.6% in 2019 (World Bank, latest data available), and it dropped further after the takeover of the Taliban in 2021. 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, textile and petroleum products. Although not officially recorded, opium remains the main export of the country, estimated to be worth between USD 1.7 to 2.5 billion in 2021 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (as of 2022, Afghanistan's harvest produced more than 90% of illicit heroin globally and more than 95% of the European supply).
Afghanistan usually trades with its neighbours, Pakistan being its major trade partner. Pakistan, along with India, receive around 75% of Afghan exports, followed by the United Arab Emirates, China and Turkey. Iran is the main supplier of goods in Afghanistan, followed by China, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Pakistan achieved bilateral trade of USD 1.513 billion in 2022, according to the State Bank of Pakistan; while trade with India reached USD 45 million last year, data from the Indian Ministry of Commerce show.
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.

According to the latest available data from WTO, in 2021 exports edged up to USD 1 billion from USD 732 million a year earlier; whereas imports decreased to USD 5.5 billion (-22.2%). No data is available for 2021 trade in services. As can be seen from the above figures, Afghanistan has a structural trade deficit, which is expected to worsen following the establishment of the Taliban regime. Official statistics show that during the first half of 2022, the country imported merchandise worth USD 2.9 billion (10% lower than the comparable period one year earlier), while exports stood at USD 740 million (+21% - data World Bank).

Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 7,4076,7776,5385,5505,762
Exports of Goods (million USD) 8758647771,035992
Imports of Services (million USD) 1,3671,2131,10500
Exports of Services (million USD) 73465270000

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)
Iran 14.6%
China 13.9%
Pakistan 12.9%
United States 9.1%
Turkmenistan 8.1%
See More Countries 41.5%

Source: Comtrade, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: December 2023