Afghanistan – Construction is big
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia bordering Iran, Pakistan, China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The country has a population of around 31 million and approximately 35% of its citizens live below the poverty line. The capital is Kabul.
Agriculture has been the backbone of the nation’s economy and the country is known for producing some of the finest pomegranates, grapes, apricots, melons and dry fruits and nuts. This is in spite of the fact that large parts of the country are dry. Rainfall and melting snow flow into rivers, lakes and streams but two-thirds of the water from these flows into neighbouring countries.
One of the main drivers for the current economic recovery is the return of over 5 million expatriates, who brought with them fresh energy, entrepreneurship and wealth-creating skills as well as much needed funds to start up businesses.
In addition, for the first time since the 1970s, Afghans have involved themselves in construction, one of the largest industries in the country. Some of the major national construction projects include the $35 billion New Kabul City next to the capital, and the Ghazi Amanullah Khan City near Jalalabad.
Also, a number of companies and small factories have begun operating in different parts of the country, which not only provide revenues to the government but also create new jobs. Afghan rugs are becoming popular again, allowing many carpet dealers around the country to hire more workers.
Pashto and Dari are the official languages, but many Afghans in business will speak English.
The country is predominately Sunni Muslim, and a high level of respect for local customs and traditions is required to conduct business successfully. In a country where the legal system has been in a state of disarray as civil war raged, a spoken agreement may be considered as binding as a signed legal contract.
Haggling is an everyday occurrence in Afghanistan, and should be played like a game. Start low (or high, if selling), and work your way up slowly, while taking turns with the other party to feign outrage or disinterest as the negotiation approaches its climax. It can be a slow, daunting experience at first, but can become enjoyable with practice.
Share your Afghan business experiences
Sources: eHow.com, Wikipedia, Kwintessential
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