Business in Afghanistan, Business Etiquette & Protocol

Afghanistan is mainly an agricultural country and 80% of the total population is working in this segment. The most common crops that are being cultivated in the region are poppy, rice, wheat, sugar beets, cotton and oil seeds; there is variety of vegetables, nuts & fruits that are also being cultivated in some of the provinces in the country.

The country has excessive deposits of mineral resources such as copper, coal, iron, and natural gas. Right now the deposits of natural gas are being exploited at commercial level. The major country that import products from Afghanistan are India, UK, Germany & Belgium.

Till now, the Afghan economy relies on foreign aids but government is focusing on developing strong partnership with the private sector so that new jobs could be created which can help in boosting the overall economy of the country.

The challenges for starting a business in Afghanistan are there, there are lots of problems which need to be resolved for instance the issue of lack or weak infrastructure, corruption and lack of experience in project development & management. Afghanistan also needs to upgrade their legal system as current system is inefficient for complex commercial issues.

Here we will also look at the some of the business etiquettes & protocols you must adopt while doing business in Afghanistan.

What to Wear:

For both men and women it is essential to dress modestly & conservatively. For instance man can wear suits and shoes, but if they are working in a non-commercial capacity then it will be best if they will wear traditional Afghan dress long shirts and trousers.

When it comes to women, they should follow the same rule of modesty, the general rule is to show as little flesh as possible from neck downwards. It’s better to wear knee-length loose fighting business skirts with loose fitting professional trousers and wearing headscarf is suitable as well.

Business Meetings:

Business is quite personal in Afghanistan and the most important thing is trust. So if you do not spend some quality time with your counterpart, then it is much appropriate if you should arrange some initial meeting for establishing the trust. Once that trust has been established, then you can talk about the nitty-gritty of business.

The leader always defines the agenda, time, place and content of the meeting. If the starting time has been shared, then it’s important that participants should follow it. Don’t be surprised or offended if during meeting people walk in & out or attend phone calls. Afghani style of communication is quite indirect so it is always better to read between the lines for the answer. The concept of honour & shame also prevails in their business life, just like personal, so make sure that you should not accuse or speak down to anyone.


Negotiation is quite tricky and an enjoyable affair. The most important thing is you should always negotiate with the most senior person possible as they hold the decision’s power. Just like any other negotiation, there is a stronger and a weaker party. So you can have the advantage if you play your cards wisely. Start widely high in the negation and then work your way down slowly, explain them why you think the thing cost low and what the damage is doing to you.

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