US facilitates trade with Afghanistan despite Taliban sanctions – NBC Chicago
The Biden administration on Friday sought to assure financial institutions and other businesses that U.S. sanctions against the Taliban are not intended to interfere with trade that could help lift Afghanistan out of an economic and humanitarian crisis.
A so-called general license issued by the Treasury Department broadened the authorization of business and financial transactions in Afghanistan in hopes of helping Afghans but not the Taliban, senior administration officials said.
There are plans to revive some business activities that halted after the U.S.-backed government fell to the Taliban in August, officials told reporters.
It is the latest in a series of administration actions aimed at easing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where aid groups estimate that nearly 24 million people, more than half across the country, are facing severe famine and nearly 9 million are on the brink of starvation. .
The license authorizes transactions involving Afghanistan or government institutions in Afghanistan, except for specific Taliban figures under sanctions. It “aims to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not prevent or impede transactions and activities necessary to meet the basic human needs of the Afghan people,” Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said in a statement. a statement.
Conditions in Afghanistan were grim for many even before the Taliban takeover, with a long drought and entrenched poverty. But the situation worsened because the government relied on foreign aid for 75% of its budget.
Administration officials admit that the Treasury license will have only a limited effect on companies reluctant to do business in Afghanistan, regardless of the sanctions against the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration announced more than $300 million in humanitarian assistance and is working with the World Bank and other organizations to provide additional relief from money that had previously been set aside for the development.
The Treasury also issued blanket licenses to make it clear that humanitarian aid would not run counter to sanctions.
He also set aside $3.5 billion in Afghan government funds frozen in the United States after the Taliban takeover to help the country’s economy in a way officials say has not. yet been determined. One option is to use the money to recapitalize the country’s central bank if it can be run independently of the Taliban.
The rest of the frozen funds are being held pending legal claims from relatives of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, who have won lawsuits against the Taliban.