Saturday, November 17, 2007
‘Afghan opium exports make up half of GDP’
* UN says of $4 billion trade, only one billion goes to farmers
VIENNA: The value of Afghanistan’s smuggled opium exports is equivalent to more than half of its gross domestic product, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said Friday.
Aside from 19th-century China, “no other country in the world has ever produced narcotics on such a deadly scale,” the Vienna-based organisation said in a statement upon publication of its 2007 Afghan Opium Survey. UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa said it was in the interest of Western forces battling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan to intervene to smash the illicit trade.
“Opium is now equivalent to more than half (53 percent) of the country’s licit GDP,” the UNODC said in its report. The total value of opium and heroin exports to neighbouring countries was four billion dollars in 2007, up 29 percent from the previous year, while GDP for 2007 was 7.5 billion dollars, according to the Afghan government, it said. In 2006, opiate exports from the country were worth 3.1 billion dollars, or 45 percent of GDP, the report added.
Farmers’ share: It noted that about one billion dollars went to the farmers, while the rest went to district officials, insurgents and warlords who “control the business of producing and distributing the drugs” and drug traffickers. The amount of land used for opium poppy cultivation increased by 17 percent in 2007, while production went up 34 percent, the UNODC report also said,
It noted however that while opium cultivation was on the rise in the southwest of the country, a growing number of provinces in northern Afghanistan were becoming opium-free. “The Afghan opium situation looks grim, but it is not yet hopeless,” Costa said in the report. The UNODC calculated that Afghan traffickers made 1.7 billion dollars by exporting opium, up 1.2 billion in 2006, and 2.3 billion by exporting its derivatives heroin and morphine.
The value of the drugs increases “with every border crossing” and so “the potential windfall for criminals, insurgents and terrorists is staggering and runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Costa said upon publication of the report. afp
Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan