The Central Asia Trade Forum is a flagship international event for companies and officials. This year’s forum entitled CENTRAL ASIA – GROWTH AND PROSPERITY will be a virtual event. Hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the forum will explore new trends and market reactions in Central Asia during the post COVID-19 economic recovery.
The Central Asia Trade Forum is one of the largest annual events promoting regional trade and connectivity in Central Asia and has evolved into a widely-recognized brand. The agenda of the Central Asia Trade Forum in 2020 comprises live interactive panel sessions and webinars. Links to background interviews and presentations from thought leaders will support each sectoral panel session and webinar.
November 16th, 2020
OPENING SESSION – CELEBRATING TEN YEARS OF TRADE FORUMS IN CENTRAL ASIA
MC: MS. ASSEL KOZHAKOVA
PRE-RECORDED OPENING REMARKS: HONORABLE MR. WILLIAM MOSER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO KAZAKHSTAN
LIVE OPENING REMARKS: MR. AZAMAT ASKARULY, VICE-MINISTER OF TRADE AND INTEGRATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN
LIVE OPENING REMARKS: MR. LAZIZ KUDRATOV, FIRST DEPUTY MINISTER OF INVESTMENTS AND FOREIGN TRADE OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN
PRE-RECORDED OPENING REMARKS: MR. MIKHEIL JANELIDZE, FORMER VICE PRIME MINISTER AND FOREIGN MINISTER OF GEORGIA
PRE-RECORDED OPENING REMARKS: MR. WILLIAM TOMPSON, HEAD OF OECD EURASIA DIVISION
LIVE PANEL SESSION 1: COVID-19’S IMPACT ON REGIONAL SUPPLY CHAINS – STRENGTHENING TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS NETWORKS IN CENTRAL ASIA
Central Asia is landlocked and farther from an ocean than anywhere on earth. In normal times, this makes trade with the rest of the world expensive and challenging, at best. These are not normal times. The Global Pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and the effects of this disruption continue to ripple around the world. How has the pandemic impacted trade, transportation and logistics in this remote region? What are companies doing to adjust? After a devastating forest fire, new shoots emerge from charred earth, what kinds of opportunities arise from this crisis? How has the pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies like robotics, 3-D printing, Artificial Intelligence. In this live panel discussion, you will gain salient insight into how the pandemic is transforming transportation and logistics, and what the future has in store.
Moderator: Mr. Rakhim Oshakbayev, Director, TALAP Center for Applied Research, Kazakhstan
Introduction of Session 1
Mr. Javier Piedra, Acting Assistant Administrator, USAID Asia Bureau – introduction of the Live Panel Session 1
- Mr. Keith Newton, Secretary General, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), UK
- Mr. Sean Culey, Supply Chain Expert, Futurist and Author of Transition Point: From Steam to the Singularity, UK
- Mr. Lowell W. Randel, Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs, Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), USA
- Mr. Vyacheslav Kim, CEO, TransAsia Logistics, Uzbekistan
- Ms. Marina Kuznechevskaya, Area Manager Kazakhstan, Fly Dubai Airlines
EXPERT INTERVIEWS AND PRESENTATIONS
November 17th, 2020
LIVE PANEL SESSION 2: TOURISM RECOVERY IN CENTRAL ASIA – HOW CAN REGIONAL COOPERATION REVITALIZE TOURISM?
Tourism has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy. As governments around the world have introduced unprecedented measures to contain the virus, restrictions on travel, business operations and people-to-people interactions have brought the tourism economy to a standstill. Central Asian countries are managing the re-opening of the tourism economy. This is a complex and challenging task, involving lifting travel restrictions, restoring traveler confidence and rethinking the tourism sector for the future. This live panel session brings together local and global tourism experts to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on regional tourism and potential solutions to restart and rebuild the tourism industry.
Moderator: Ms. Hayley Wright, Director, Black Mountain Montenegro
- Mr. Todjiddin Dzhurazoda, Chairperson of the Committee of Tourism Development under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan
- Mr. Ulugbek Azamov, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Tourism Development
- Ms. Kiyal Kenzhematova, Acting Director of Tourism Department of the Kyrgyz Republic
- Ms. Gulmira Akhberdieva, Head of the Tourism Department of the Turkestan region
- Ms. Gergana Nikolova, Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA)
- Mr. Asadsho Zoolshoev, Director of Pamir Eco-Cultural Tourism Association (PECTA)
- Mr. Zafar Norov, Chairman of Zerafshan Tourism Board (ZTB)
- Ms. Gulchekhra Israilova, Chairwoman of the Association of Private Tourism Agencies of Uzbekistan (APTA)
- Mr. Mansur Abylaev, President of the Kyrgyz Association of Tour Operators (KATO)
- Ms. Elena Kalashnikova, Director of Ak Sai Travel Company, Kyrgyz Republic
- Mr. Almas Maratuly, Founder of Limon Travel Company, Kazakhstan
- Mr. Bauyrzhan Shalabekov, Director, 10Tech, Kazakhstan
- Mr. Dennis Keen, Founder of Almaty Walking Tours, Kazakhstan
LIVE PANEL SESSION 3: REGIONAL CHALLENGES, NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN E-COMMERCE
Leveraging eCommerce for Central Asian businesses’ trade and growth
eCommerce is opening extraordinary opportunities for Central Asian firms of all sizes to reach new customers, export, and grow. Surveys show that firms that sell online are 2-3 times likelier to export than offline sellers, and that most firms that sell on global online marketplaces export to ten or more markets, and that online sellers grow faster than offline sellers.
eCommerce is still nascent in Central Asia, but growing rapidly as regional and global consumers migrate online amid Covid-19. The region has promising online retailers, for example of groceries, textile and apparel, food products, and artisan products. However, the region’s firms still face a number of challenges to translate eCommerce opportunities into exports and growth, such as limited eCommerce skills and knowledge about best-in-class eCommerce-related technologies, complex and expensive cross-border logistics, frictions with cross-border online payments, and regulatory fragmentation of the regional digital markets, among others.
The purpose of this panel is to explore solutions to these challenges. The panel brings together local and global eCommerce leaders who discuss what their businesses are doing to drive eCommerce in the region and how they can collaborate with regional large firms and SMEs as well as with regional governments in enabling eCommerce. The panel also features visionary leaders who are fashioning the region’s regulatory and physical infrastructure conducive to eCommerce.
PANEL 1 – Business Development and Investment (1-hour)
Moderator: Mr. Aibek Kurenkeev, Vice President, eCommerce Association of the Kyrgyz Republic
- Ms. Kati Suominen, eCommerce Expert, Palladium / NextTrade / USAID’s Future Growth Initiative
- Mr. Tahir Emrah Tuzun, Head of Sales and Market Development – Middle East & Africa, PayPal
- Mr. Aman Tentiev, Founder and CEO, Namba TechFarm
- Mr. Botir Arifdjanov, Co-Founder, Le Bazar Uzbekistan
- Mr. Yasar Yuzer, Senior Managing Consultant Cybersecurity, Mastercard
PANEL 2 – Ecosystem and Policy Development (1-hour)
Moderator: Ms. Kati Suominen, Palladium /NextTrade/eCommerce Expert
- Mr. Hakan Tatlici, Head of Business Development and Digital Payments – High Growth European Markets, Mastercard
- Mr. Pablo Che Leon Sarmiento, Head of VTEX for Asia
- Mr. Bakhtiyor Muminov, Founder & CEO, Babilon-T Tajikistan
- Mr. Anton Zinovyev, Senior Policy Expert, JCA / USAID’s Future Growth Initiative
- Ms. Saodat Tursunbayeva, President, “Sharq Ayoli” International Women’s Public Foundation
WEBINAR ON E-COMMERCE
MULTINATIONAL ECOMMERCE COMPANY – VTEX
As consumers migrate online amid the Covid crisis, companies around the world and in Central Asia are digitizing and engaging in ecommerce more than ever. Ecommerce is widely found to enable even small companies to reach buyers at home and abroad, and to export. However, to successfully compete online, Central Asian companies need sophisticated commerce capabilities. This webinar features a leading global commerce company VTEX that has for almost 20 years enabled such retailers as Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, and Walmart and many B2B companies to successfully interact and transact with their customers and suppliers worldwide.
November 18th, 2020
PANEL SESSION 4: GROWING BUSINESS CONNECTIVITY BETWEEN CENTRAL ASIA AND AFGHANISTAN (REGIONAL AMCHAM NETWORK)
PANEL 1. Regional AmCham Network (1 hour – 10.00-11.00)
Central Asian Governments are increasingly engaging in talks to increase regional economic cooperation including trade and investment links with Afghanistan. USAID and other donors are supporting these discussions with cross-border B2B, training and other activities to enhance business connectivity. In this panel session AmCham business leaders and member representatives from across the region and Afghanistan will discuss joint opportunities for cross-border trade and investment and the impediments to be overcome.
Moderator: Mr. Nikolay Yarmov, Senior AmCham Advisor, USAID’s Future Growth Initiate
- Ms. Tatyana Bystrushkina, Executive Director, AmCham Uzbekistan
- Ms. Nazira Beishenalieva, Chairwoman BOD, AmCham Kyrgyz Republic
- Mr. Sharaf Davlatov, Executive Director, AmCham Tajikistan
- Mr. Sanzar Kakar, Board Member, AmCham Afghanistan
PANEL 2. A Local Afghan Perspective To Business Opportunities With Central Asia (1 hour – 11.15-12.15)
Central Asian Governments are increasingly engaging in talks with the Government of Afghanistan to increase regional economic cooperation. USAID and other donors are supporting these discussions with cross-border B2Bs, training and other activities to enhance business connectivity. In this panel session business leaders from across the region and Afghanistan discuss opportunities for cross-border trade and investment and the impediments to be overcome.
Moderator: Mr. Hikmat Abdurahmanov, Entrepreneur, Co-founder, HMPartners
- Mr. Sayed Zaman Hashimi – CEO, ACCI (Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce and Industry)
- Mr. Naim Atarud – CEO, Boustan Sabz Agriculture Company Limited
- Mr. Shoaib A. Rahim – Researcher and Analyst, Zabuli Research Center
- Mr. Hojat Fazli – CEO, AICC (Afghanistan International Chamber of Commerce)
- Mr. Abduvakhid Abdukhalikov –“TransTurkiston” Company, Uzbekistan
LIVE PANEL SESSION 5 (GIZ): GROWING PUBLIC-PRIVATE DIALOGUE – COMING OF AGE OF NATIONAL TRADE FACILITATION COMMITTEES
The risk of a recession of the Global Pandemic tempts governments to raise trade barriers further, the exact opposite is needed to boost regional output and employment. How can regional interaction of Trade Facilitation Committees solve issues related to trade development and promote regional trade in Central Asia and other regions? Is there any successful international experience in the functioning of Trade Facilitation Committees? How can private sector cooperate and participate in Trade Facilitation Committees? In this live panel discussion, you will gain valuable insight into how meaningful and productive public-private dialogue, in the face of the pandemic, can be an effective mechanism for solving trade facilitation issues.
Moderator: Ms. Asel Uzagalieva, Component Manager, GIZ
- Mr. Poul Hansen, Chief, Trade Facilitation, UNCTAD
Topic: Functioning of Trade Facilitation Committees and participation of private sector in policy making for trade facilitation: international experience.
- Ms. Larisa Kislyakova, Chairperson Central Asia Transport and Logistics Partnership
Topic: Role of Transport and Logistics Partnership in Central Asia for promotion of the Public-Private Dialogue through the Trade Facilitation Committees.
- Mr. Pierre Bonthonneau, Trade Facilitation Adviser, International Trade Center
Topic: Connecting NTFCs for coordinated trade facilitation reforms with business inputs in Central Asia.
- Ms. Birgit Viohl, Expert on International Trade and Trade Facilitation
Topic: Inputs and recommendations from the Regional Networking Meeting of NTFCs in Central Asia.
ROUND TABLE WITH THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT (EIU)
The Economic Intelligence Unit released a comparative study “Looking Ahead: Economic Policy Options for Covid-19 and Beyond in Central Asia” as part of USAID’s economic response plan to the pandemic. The report provides an overview of the global pandemic’s impact on the economies of 15 countries and includes a detailed analysis of governments’ responses in leading global markets such as the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and India; it compares these with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, and Central Asian countries that are receiving assistance under the FGI (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). The report also presents a set of economic measures for a long-term recovery and best international practices for sectors such as tourism, light manufacturing, and food processing, among others. The main focus of the webinar will be the effectiveness of interventions, good practices, recommendations for post-pandemic next steps in Central Asia, as well as the global trade and investment outlook impacting the region.
Mr. Filip Stoyanovich, Chief of Party, USAID Future Growth Initiative
- Mr. Peter Young, Deputy Mission Director, USAID Central Asia- introduction to the round table
- Mr. Chris Clague, Editorial Global Lead, Trade and Globalizations
Topic: Global trade and investment outlook, highlighting key developments and opportunities relevant for Central Asia
- Mr. Matus Samel, EIU Consulting – Public Policy
Topic: Key takeaways from the EIU report
November 19th, 2020
PANEL SESSION 6: ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF IMPROVED WATER MANAGEMENT AND COOPERATION / WATER AS A PART OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Water is a pillar of economic development; it is an essential input for many goods that the region exports. Water is the backbone of agriculture and electricity generation in the region, and clean water is also important for the health of the people who make up the country’s workforce. The region’s water bodies are important to the tourism industry, which can be a sustainable export into the future. We cannot discuss regional trade or economic growth without acknowledging the cross-cutting nature of water.
Water, energy, and food security are tightly interlinked in Central Asia, forming a resource nexus that transcends the borders of the five Central Asian States of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Almost 90 percent of Central Asia’s water is transboundary, and the increased demand over shrinking water resources requires planning and close coordination between governments, experts, and users.
The session on the “Economic benefits of improved water management and cooperation” will highlight the interlinkages of regional trade with water availability, and the challenges and opportunities in regional water cooperation through the water/energy/agriculture nexus. This Panel will include discussion on the following topics
- Opportunities in regional water cooperation based on results from USAID’s Smart Waters project
- Regional water management priorities: water/energy/agriculture nexus
- The cost of inaction and the economic benefits of transboundary water cooperation
- Next-Generation Water Resource Management Platforms for Local Governments: A Case of Turkestan Region in Kazakhstan
Moderator: Mr. Michael Boyd, Chief of Party, USAID Power Central Asia Project
- Honorable Mr. Daniel Rosenblum, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Introduction to panel 6 (pre-recorded)
- Dr. Yekaterina Strikeleva – Program manager, Water Initiative Support, Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC)
- Mr. Richard Volk – Chief of Party, USAID’s Water and Vulnerable Environment project
- Mr. André Wehrli – Regional Water Advisor, Central Asia Swiss Development Agency
- Mr. Marat Beksultanov, Director, AgriTech Hub Kazakhstan
PANEL SESSION 7: POWERING CENTRAL ASIA – REGIONAL MARKET SOLUTIONS TO BETTER ELECTRICITY DELIVERY
The re-integration and synchronized operation of national power systems is essential for the creation of an open and competitive wholesale Regional Electricity Market in Central Asia. The market will serve as a regional platform for the exchange of electricity surpluses resulting from a more efficient utilization of the generation capacity through an extensive use of complementarity between different sources and will also enable the deployment and integration of renewable energy projects at a regional scale. These actions will not only enhance supply security and reliability but will serve as an engine to propel the economic growth of the region by creating significant business opportunities and attracting private investment into the power sectors of all five countries.
To help Central Asia achieve the above vision and objectives, USAID is providing technical, legal/regulatory and market assistance and capacity building, as well as support to implement power sector reforms needed to expedite the creation of the market.
This panel session includes discussions on the following topics:
1. Overcoming the challenges for power systems integration in Central Asia.
2. Accelerating economic growth in Central Asia through a Regional Electricity Market.
3. Renewable energy opportunities in Central Asia.
Moderator: Mr. Sergey Yelkin, USAID Central Asia
- Mr. Eric Meyer, U.S. Consul General in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Introduction to Panel Session 7 (pre-recorded)
- Mr. Khamidilla A. Shamsiev, PhD, Director, Coordinating Dispatch Center “Energy”
Topic: Overcoming the challenges for power systems integration in CA
- Mr. Pedro Robiou, Manager, Power Sector Projects
Topic: Accelerating economic growth in CA through a regional electricity market
- Mr. Arzumanyan Armen, Chief of Party, Power the Future, Central Asia Regional Electricity Market
Topic: Renewable energy opportunities in CA
November 20th, 2020
PANEL SESSION 8: REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR START-UP COOPERATION
Central Asia: the region full of opportunities
The panel session «Central Asia: the region full of opportunities» is targeted on building bridges between the public and private sectors in the startup community both in each individual country and in Central Asia as a region. Startup leading will participate from multiple countries, to present their experiences on the opportunities, as well as challenges. The main discussion will be around four topics: Regulatory issues for startups in Central Asia; Infrastructure for systematic development of startups; Investments and finance sources for startups; and IT Startups as a base for Digital Economy.
Moderator: Mr. Alim Khamitov, Co-founder, Business-incubator MOST
- Mr. Chubak Temirov, Deputy Director, High Tech Park of the Kyrgyz Republic
- Ms. Sasha Alexandra Sternik, Head of External Relations & Investments Team, IT Park Uzbekistan
- Mr. Dilshod Jurayev, Founder, 55 Group Tajikistan
- Mr. Daniil Maykovskiy, Business Development Director, MCT Agency (emerging incubator)
- Mr. Magzhan Madiyev, CEO, International Technopark Astana Hub Kazakhstan
PANEL SESSION 9: CENTRAL ASIAN WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP – REACHING BEYOND THE PANDEMIC
Globally, women own or manage much fewer businesses than men – due to many economic and social factors. Covid-19 has highlighted e-commerce over traditional trade – does this give women entrepreneurs an edge over their male counterparts? This panel session brings experts on facilitating women in trade and women entrepreneurial leaders to review their current experience of Central Asia, discuss available tools and explore post-Covid-19 opportunities for women in the region. The panelists will discuss how women can leverage their combined experience and market access to expand their businesses after the pandemic.
Moderator: Ms. Rasa Ostrauskaite, Ambassador, EU Permanent Representative to the OSCE
- Ms. Nodira Mansurova, Regional Head and Associate Director, SME Finance and Development Department, Central Asia and Mongolia, EBRD
Topic: The EBRD’s Women in Business Programme in Central Asia: results and outlook
- Ms. Silvia Pietropaolo, Programme Manager, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Kazakhstan with short intervention.
- Ms. Alina Fetisova, Associate Programme Officer, International Trade Center (ITC)
Topic: Facilitating Trade for Women in Central Asia under Covid-19
- Ms. Gayani de Alwis, Global WiLAT Chairperson, Immediate Past Chairperson CILT Sri Lanka
Topic: The Role of Trade in Ensuring Gender Equality
- Ms. Gulchekhra Makhmudova, CEO, Chairwoman, “BEGIM” LLC, Parfum Gallery Uzbekistan
- Ms. Sammar Essmat, Senior Gender Lead for Middle East and North Africa / East Europe and Central Asia International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group
Topic: Implications of COVID-19, Post-pandemic Approaches and Tools to Sustain Businesses
- Ms. Ann Hudock, President and CEO at Counterpart International
Topic: Value for Money: the Power and the Potential of Investing in Women Entrepreneurs
Paulo Fernandes. Port Ecosystems.
Nurlan Igembayev and Manas Userbayev. Impact of COVID-19 on the Railway Industry.
Natalia Bayona. Innovation and sustainability as the new normal.
Stephen Lioy. Marketing strategy in the COVID era.