KABUL  - The United States will unveil $300 million Monday in new aid initiatives for Afghanistan for the impoverished nation as the war economy winds down and global troops withdraw, a US official said.

The programs are being rolled out by the US Agency for International Development. The first tranche of some $77 million aims to enhance trade and fiscal sustainability to support Afghanistan’s accession to the World Trade Organization later this year.

“Peer-reviewed articles suggest that if countries like Afghanistan make the regulatory reforms required to achieve WTO accession, they will typically see a net jump in GDP of 20 percent within the first five years,” a State Department official told AFP, asking not to be named.

The program will help support trade deals with Central Asian republics and India, and aid the government to boost its revenues through implementing such things as value added tax.

A second, $92 million five-year program will help develop a more skilled workforce, partnering American universities with 10 Afghan universities. This program went into force on January 1.

Meanwhile, a car bomb in the Afghan capital Kabul killed two United States contractors for the international security force ISAF on Monday, the NATO-led force and a US official said.

The explosion in eastern Kabul was the latest incident to rattle the city ahead of April’s presidential election due to choose the country’s first new leader since 2001. “Two International Security Assistance Force contracted civilians died as the result of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack in eastern Afghanistan today,” ISAF said in a statement.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the slain contractors were American.

Afghanistan’s future remains uncertain as the Taliban continue their insurgent campaign and Washington and President Hamid Karzai are deadlocked over a bilateral security deal to let some US forces stay beyond the end of 2014.

NATO forces have already begun to withdraw from Afghanistan, but the United States and other nations have been seeking to keep some troops in Afghanistan after 2014 to help the country’s army fend off the Taliban.

On Saturday, the United Nations said that civilian deaths increased in 2013 as fighting intensified between government forces and insurgents.