By: Robert Sauers, USAID Afghanistan.
Originally posted in DipNote the U.S. Department of State Official Blog

Afghan carpet seller

Afghan carpet seller watches pedestrians as he waits for customers in Kabul. October 21, 2007. AP File

The Paiman Atlas Group celebrated the opening of its new modernized carpet processing facility yesterday in Dasht-e Barchi, Kabul. Supported by a public-private partnership facilitated by USAID’s Afghanistan Small and Medium Enterprise Development (ASMED) project, Paiman can now produce up to 100 square meters of carpet per day, a 120 percent increase from its previous capacity.

With revenues of more than $150 million in 2009, carpets are Afghanistan’s leading export. However, the current lack of large-scale processing facilities in Afghanistan results in more than 80 percent of Afghan carpets being shipped to Pakistan for finishing. These carpets are then exported with “Made in Pakistan” labels, resulting in a loss of opportunity for Afghans to capture the full value of their products. With the new machinery, Paiman’s processing complex will enable Afghan carpet producers and traders to export their products directly under the “Made in Afghanistan” label.

Paiman is a partnership of six Afghan carpet producers and exporters whose vision is to create domestic processing and finishing services for Afghan carpets. The new carpet finishing complex will help Paiman export Afghan carpets directly through Turkey to U.S. and European Union customers and will encourage other Afghan producers and exporters to explore direct export opportunities.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Commerce Ailaqi remarked that Afghanistan’s “carpet industry is the outcome of hard work, creativity and art of Afghans with endless dedication and a rich history that creates jobs for more than two million men and women. It is a great source of income for people and for the country.” Paiman Chief Executive Officer Hasmatullah Haidar, and representatives from the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Afghan Carpet Exports Guild also attended the opening celebration.

Through its ASMED project, USAID seeks to improve private sector productivity and increase employment opportunities in Afghanistan. The project encourages the development of Afghan businesses through support for capacity building, technology transfer, and investment, including public-private partnerships.