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William Byrd is a development economist whose academic background includes a doctorate in economics from Harvard University and a master's degree in East Asian Regional Studies from the same institution. He joined USIP in April 2012 as a senior expert, working on Afghanistan.

He had long experience at the World Bank, where most of his work was country-focused, including China, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He lived for significant lengths of time in all of these countries and speaks Dari and Chinese, with some knowledge of other languages. During 2002-2006, he was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the World Bank’s country manager for Afghanistan and then as economic adviser. His publications include six books on China, other books, and numerous articles, among them several papers on Afghanistan, as well as a number of World Bank reports. Examples include reports on Afghanistan’s economic development, public finance management, economic cooperation in the wider Central Asia region, vulnerabilities to corruption assessments, Afghanistan’s drug industry, and economic incentives and development initiatives to reduce opium production, as well as papers on these topics, security sector reform from a financial and development perspective, and on responding to Afghanistan’s development challenge.

Publications By William

Industrial-Scale Looting of Afghanistan’s Mineral Resources

Industrial-Scale Looting of Afghanistan’s Mineral Resources

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

By: William Byrd; Javed Noorani

Afghanistan has been plagued by large-scale, open looting of mineral resources, involving significant mining operations, bulk transport of minerals along main roads, and crossing the border at just a few, government-controlled points. This mineral looting, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars per year, involves widespread corruption, entrenches warlords and their networks, and fuels both local conflicts and the wider insurgency in Afghanistan. The government needs to begin to get a better handle on resource exploitation and to collect more substantial royalties and taxes from ongoing mining activities.

Economics & Environment

Afghanistan’s Rapid Revenue Growth

Afghanistan’s Rapid Revenue Growth

Thursday, September 1, 2016

By: M. Khalid Payenda; William Byrd

Afghanistan’s impressive revenue turnaround in 2015—when total government revenue exceeded expectations with an increase of 22 percent—has been followed by further rapid revenue growth in the first half of 2016. This represents an important achievement in the challenging context of Afghanistan, though the country will remain heavily aid dependent for the foreseeable future, underlining the importance of the upcoming Brussels international donor meeting on Oct. 5. There are concerns, however, ...

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

Technocratic Reforms in Afghanistan: Benefits and Limitations

Technocratic Reforms in Afghanistan: Benefits and Limitations

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

By: William Byrd

Afghanistan’s “technocratic” reforms have resulted in impressive progress in areas such as public financial management. However, these reforms alone will not solve the country’s pressing security, political, and economic problems. This brief outlines the benefits and limitations of technocratic reforms and emphasizes that government and international attention should not be diverted from concrete, short-term measures to improve government functioning, strengthen security, and stimulate a mode...

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

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