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June 9, 2003
  Contact: Julie Cram
(202) 482-3809/Cell: (202) 297-2641

Under Secretary Aldonas Announces Business Development Mission to Afghanistan in Fall

Grant Aldonas, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, today reaffirmed the Bush Administration's continued commitment to the rebuilding of Afghanistan during the first-ever Commerce/U.S. Trade Development Agency conference in Chicago, Ill. Aldonas also announced he will lead a business development mission to Afghanistan this fall.

"President Bush has made the reconstruction of Afghanistan a high priority, and this is a prime example of our commitment to building a safe and more secure future at home and abroad through expanded trade," Aldonas said. "By encouraging U.S. companies to do business in Afghanistan, we not only help promote mutual economic opportunity, but foster political stability and an improved standard of living for the people of Afghanistan."

Building on the success of the conference, Aldonas said he will lead a U.S. business delegation to Afghanistan sometime in the fall to seek and explore market opportunities. Last year, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Environment and Materials Kevin Murphy led an inter-agency delegation to Kabul to open channels of communication, assess infrastructure needs, and promote a role for the U.S. private sector in reconstruction and development efforts.

During the Afghanistan - Rebuilding a Nation conference, Aldonas and Afghan Minister of Commerce Sayed Mustafa Kazemi, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a bilateral commercial working group. Aldonas and Kazemi will co-chair the working group that will provide a forum to discuss commercial issues such as trade development and foreign investment promotion. Afghan ministers and deputy ministers presented priority reconstruction projects by offering specific information to more than 200 U.S. company representatives.

Afghan ministries that were represented included the Office of the President, Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Reconstruction, Irrigation, Mines and Industry, Urban Development, Public Works, Communications, Finance and Central Bank. Senior officials from these departments participated on panels and delivered project presentations and were available for one-on-one meetings with U.S. companies.

The conference highlighted more than 35 large-scale pre-financed projects, with a combined value of more than $4 billion. This included a $19.3 million project for air navigation services for Kabul Airport, a $400 million project for the construction of a new town or "satellite city" to alleviate the housing crisis northeast of Kabul, and a $333 million plan to construct a new power generation facility near Sheberghan or in Kabul and a possible pipeline.

To learn more about the conference visit www.trademeetings.com or to find our more about Commerce's efforts in rebuilding Afghanistan visit www.export.gov/afghanistan.

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