WASHINGTON, August 1 (Sputnik) – The United States has not increased efforts to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral wealth since the White House unveiled the plan a year ago as a way to offset war costs, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report.
“Nearly one year after the Trump administration made the decision to recommit to Afghanistan, US extractives sector programming remains relatively minimal,” the report said on Tuesday. “The scale and scope of these programs are far more modest than previous US efforts, which amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in support.”
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) told SIGAR that assisting Afghanistan to develop its extractives sector is a component of the administration’s new South Asia strategy.
But how that component will be fully developed has not yet been determined, SIGAR noted.
President Donald Trump and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a meeting in New York last fall agreed that there were opportunities for US companies to rapidly develop Afghanistan’s rare-earth minerals to help fund the war.
The US Defense Department in 2010 estimated that Afghanistan’s mineral wealth could be worth up to $1 trillion. SIGAR previously reported that the estimate is too optimistic because the US and Afghan governments have repeatedly underestimated extraction costs while overestimating market value.