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In 2017, US President Donald Trump announced an increase in US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan in order to combat the resurgence of Islamic extremism in the region. If the conflict subsides, the World Bank expects the economy to grow by 3% in 2018.

Despite the ongoing conflict, a number of initiatives have been introduced to develop and modernise Afghanistan’s economy and forge new links throughout the region. For example, the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries has been set up to encourage and support the nation’s businesswomen. The Asian Development Bank announced that it would spend $300m on infrastructure projects, which includes the reconstruction of its major roads and the construction of an approximately 20-30 MW solar power generation facility.

Agriculture remains the country’s largest sector by GDP, followed by infrastructure. Opium makes up half of Afghanistan’s agricultural output. According to the United Nations, almost 3 million people, or 12% of the Afghan population, are employed in the production of opium. A recent rise in production (for the creation of recreational drugs) is also a major concern due to links with the funding of terrorist groups, including the Taliban which, it is reported, received 40% of its funding from the opium trade in 2016.

Elsewhere, the Afghan government has made significant effort in fighting corruption among its officials with the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Centre in November 2016. The country’s penal code, amended in 2017, introduced new offences for cybercrime, election-related crimes, corruption, and environmental crimes.

In the legal services sector, most law firms are based in Kabul and have correspondent offices in different countries in the region. RIAA Barker Gillette is the only international law firm based in Afghanistan, and DLA Piper has a strategic alliance with local firm Kakar Advocates LLC. International firms such as Baker McKenzie LLP, King & Spalding LLP and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP have worked on matters in the region, but operate from offices in other countries.

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