Securing borders and regulating cross-border trade is a key challenge for the Afghan State. Border security is inseparable from the larger war effort. In border areas, a vast share of the local population makes a living from both licit and illicit trade, much of which evades taxation. However, taming corruption and enforcing stricter border controls in conflict-affected areas are daunting tasks. Restricting cross-border movement would affect the livelihoods of millions of Afghans in some of the country’s most contested regions, potentially undermining efforts to restore peace. The Asia Foundation commissioned an initial study of the importance of cross-border trade for livelihoods and the economy of border districts. This work is the first step in a five-year research agenda focusing on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, implemented as part of the X-Border Local Research Network program.