More than 400 business leaders and government officials from around Central Asia gathered in Almaty on Oct 29-30 as part of the 4th Annual Central Asia Trade Forum organized by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Participants included technical experts, opinion shapers, government leaders, trade promotion agencies, international organizations, private businesses, and business associations from around the region. Delegations from as far afield as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Latvia participated. The Central Asian Trade Forum is the largest trade forum in Central Asia.
The theme for this year’s Trade Forum was “From Dialogue to Deals,” demonstrating the Trade Forum’s focus on business-to-business support. USAID’s Trade Forums held in the past two years have resulted in trade deals valued at more than $2.2 million. The Trade Forum’s business-to-business networking opportunities among entrepreneurs provide an important platform for finalizing regional trade deals.
Plenary sessions, technical seminars, master classes and roundtables held share international best practices with participants in export development. In addition, breakout sessions focusing on economic corridors, transport and logistics, consultancy and research for exporters, ISO standards, among others, raise awareness of regional businesses on key issues affecting regional trade. This year’s Trade Forum included focused sessions on improving the competitiveness of light industry, the development of the pharmaceutical market in Central Asia, organic farming, and prospects for regional economic cooperation.
Jonathan Addleton, USAID’s Regional Mission Director for Central Asia, noted, “The tremendous turnout for this event proves the opportunities for expanding trade within Central Asia and beyond. The United States values its strong relationship with Kazakhstan, a relationship now in its third decade. Our close bilateral partnership is particularly important as Kazakhstan takes its rightful place as a leader on the regional and world stage.”
The Trade Forum featured a Trade Expo of products by participating companies, as well as an award ceremony of “The Best Regional Exporter of 2014.” The event is organized by USAID’s Regional Economic Cooperation Project with support from GIZ (German International Cooperation), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and KAZNEX INVEST.
Media Partners of the Trade Forum include Kapital newspaper, Buznes & Vlast newspaper, Business Life magazine and the Internet analytical resource www.and.kz.