First Ever B5+1 Forum Commences

UPDATE: The B5+1 Forum has adjourned and released a Communique. 



B5+1 is the business counterpart to C5+1, the diplomatic platform for Central Asia countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) and the U.S.

The first-ever B5+1 Forum represents a significant milestone in uniting Central Asian countries as a regional economy on the global stage. Day One of the two-day conference included rich dialogue among business leaders, policymakers, and experts on how to accelerate cooperation and connectivity. More than 250 participants are at the Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan and it marks the culmination of more than a year of intensive meetings, hundreds of interviews, and other actions to identify and address the toughest barriers to doing business across the region, as well as concrete solutions and opportunities to attract international investment. One panelist called the B5+1 platform a “new way of partnership,” saying “this format will ensure our partnership reaches the next level.”

Below is a summary of key topics addressed on Day One. It included three panel discussions, an extensive question and answer session with attendees, two side events, and a press conference with more than 25 members of local and global media. The full program and speaker list, as well as numerous assessments and reports are available on the B5+1 website.

Panel One: Expert Insights on Advancing Regional Economic Integration

Speakers highlighted the uniqueness of Central Asia and identified opportunities for enhanced regional cooperation, drawing inspiration from successful models such as ASEAN and the EU.

Panel Two: Business Perspectives and Policy Recommendations

Discussions highlighted the significant potential in key industries such as e-commerce, agribusiness, tourism, and trade and transport. Alignment of economic policies across sectors emerged as a priority, alongside the promotion of inclusive leadership to drive economic progress.

Panel Three: Government Vision and Feedback

Speakers emphasized the importance of public-private dialogue in facilitating regional economic integration. A consensus was reached on aligning national and regional interests, with a focus on national reforms, regional integration, and the promotion of foreign direct investment.

Public Side Event: Power of AI in Central Asia

The transformative potential of AI to drive economic growth was the focus, with speakers highlighting the importance of efforts to facilitate “upskilling.” Many advocates for responsible use of AI and robust policy frameworks to govern and support AI-driven innovation.

Private Side Event: Financial Sector Stakeholders

With a focus on raising awareness of international sanctions compliance and exploring mechanisms to facilitate investment, the meeting aimed to foster collaboration among banking sector participants. Speakers also addressed issues around the banking sector’s access to the international wire system.

The Forum also includes a Business Expo on both days for companies to showcase their products and services, providing direct opportunities for B2B interaction. Day Two is accessible via Zoom and features three more panel discussions addressing different aspects of broadening international partnerships and international trade flows. CIPE is coordinating B5+1 with support from the U.S. Department of State.

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Published Date: March 14, 2024