High-Profile Speakers Open B5+1 Forum in Almaty

The ‘B5+1’ platform – a group of countries comprising the five Central Asian republics and the United States – took an important step forward today, with the launch of the inaugural B5+1 Forum in Almaty. 

Instrumental in the formation of the B5+1 group has been the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), which aims to develop public-private partnerships in the Central Asia region. This new business platform has been created to help international and local companies to capitalize on opportunities in global business and trade – while assisting the six governments in attracting more direct foreign investment. 

The theme of the opening day was “Looking within Central Asia”. It began with a panel discussion on boosting economic integration in the Central Asia region, drawing from the area’s distinctive context, and successful examples like ASEAN and the EU. Recommendations, from panelists including Richard E. Hoagland of the Caspian Policy Center and Alisher Shaykhov from Uzbekistan’s National Venture Capital Fund, included integrating the region’s value chain into the global economy, and promoting collaborative investment initiatives.

The second panel offered perspectives from Central Asia’s business leaders. Panelists including B5+1 representatives Aziza Shuzheyeva (Kazakhstan, e-commerce) and Manusurjon Rasulev (Uzbekistan, agribusiness) gave insights into the region’s high-profile industries. Speakers advocated for policy synchronization in these sectors, as well as in tourism and trade, as a means to boost regional growth. 

For the third panel, government officials voiced their support for enhancing public-private dialogue. Tajikistan was represented by its deputy minister for economy Ahliddin Nuriddinzoda; his counterpart Ainura Usenbekova spoke on behalf of Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan’s minister of finance Serdar Jorayev also spoke at length. Their focus was on national reforms and regional integration.

The B5+1 Forum forms part of CIPE’s program called “Improving the Business Environment in Central Asia” (IBECA). CIPE themselves are affiliated to the US Chamber of Commerce – the catalyst behind the B7 and B20 platforms – and receive funding from the US Department of State. The B5+1 Forum continues tomorrow, Friday 15 March, with a thematic day dedicated to “Central Asia’s place in the world economy”.

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Times of Central Asia