US allows trade with Afghanistan but maintains Taliban sanctions
Washington, Feb 25 (EFE).- The United States Friday approved a measure that allows commercial and financial transactions with the Afghan government, partially easing crippling sanctions against the ruling Taliban.
The measure, called a general license, was announced by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The move would “expand authorizations for commercial and financial transactions in Afghanistan, including with its governing institutions,” an official statement said.
“The GL aims to ensure that US sanctions do not prevent or inhibit transactions and activities needed to provide aid to and support the basic human needs of the people of Afghanistan.”
The Treasury Department said the measure underscored the US commitment to working with the private sector, international partners and allies, and global organizations to support the people of Afghanistan and allow the economy to function amid a deepening crisis there.
The department said “sanctions relief” was not enough to reverse the structural challenges and the flight of technocratic and government experts due to the mismanagement by the Taliban.
“(But it) can ensure that sanctions do not prevent economic activity that the people of Afghanistan rely on to meet their most fundamental needs.”
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said the move would allow international aid into Afghanistan without letting the Taliban and affiliates benefit from the transactions.
Adeyemo said the government took the measure in the light of the “dire crisis” in Afghanistan.
“It is essential that we address concerns that sanctions inhibit commercial and financial activity while we continue to deny financial resources to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other malign actors.”
The GL allows the payment of taxes, fees, and import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, and licenses, public utility services, provided that they are not related to luxury items or services.
The move comes days after US President Joe Biden said he would halve the $7 billion frozen assets from the Afghan central bank to compensate American families of 9/11 victims.
The controversial decision sparked anger in Afghanistan, which is in the middle of economic catastrophe, partly due to frozen funds abroad after the Taliban seized power in Kabul on Aug.15 last year.
The US government froze some $7 billion in Afghan central bank assets that the now-ousted Western-backed government led by President Ashraf Ghani had on deposit at the US Federal Reserve Bank.