Inaugural US-Kazakhstan Business Forum Fosters Economic Relations

ASTANA – The first-ever United States (U.S.)-Kazakhstan Business Forum, held at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC on June 5, brought together distinguished speakers and key stakeholders to explore avenues for enhanced economic collaboration between the two countries, reported the Kazakhstan Cultural-Business Association of North America (KCBANA).

Photo credit: KCBANA/Facebook

This significant event, themed Expanding Horizons: The Future of U.S.-Kazakhstan Economic Cooperation, aimed to provide an overview of cooperation in key sectors of bilateral economic relations, while also delving into new partnership opportunities in areas such as the creative industry, human capital, innovation, and women’s business empowerment.

Participants addressed regulatory, logistical, and financial barriers to regional integration and discussed action plans for accelerating economic development in Central Asia.

Exploring new frontiers in economic cooperation

The forum was organized by KCBANA, an independent non-profit, non-governmental, and non-political organization based in Washington, DC, dedicated to promoting cultural, social, and business cooperation between the people of Kazakhstan and North America, in collaboration with Parasat Business Club, the leading non-government platform in Kazakhstan aiming to unite businessmen from various economic sectors for effective cooperation.

According to the Kazinform news agency, during the event, Alternate Executive Director in the International Monetary Fund Patryk Łoszewski positively assessed the reforms carried out in Kazakhstan to create a strong and diversified economy and improve the business climate. Last year, about 10,000 unnecessary requirements related to doing business were excluded from the legislation of Kazakhstan.

USAID’s commitment and cultural and entrepreneurial exchange

Peter Young, Asia Bureau Director for South and Central Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), spoke about USAID’s efforts to support economic opportunity in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Following a meeting between the U.S. President and the heads of Central Asian countries in New York last year, the parties pledged to maintain and expand economic ties, with Kazakhstan as the top priority. The focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises, the innovative economy, and increasing trade and investment.

KCBANA Director and Global Music Partnership Co-Founder Vladimir Dio emphasized that Kazakhstan is rich not only in natural resources but also in creative talent in the performing arts of classical and modern music, as well as in feature films.

“This creative spirit manifests itself not only in music or art but also, as you can see, in mutual entrepreneurship. I am very pleased to see this in modern Kazakhstan today, because there are so many young entrepreneurs who are opening up a great future for the country,” he said.

KCBANA Founding Director Gulnara Febres noted that it was a historic day for the first Kazakh-American business forum. The guest list was impressive, with diplomats, experts, and representatives of business circles from both countries. There is mutual interest among business representatives from the U.S. and Kazakhstan, and therefore similar events will continue in the future.

KCBANA carried out the first business tour of the U.S. for members of the Parasat Business Club, allowing Kazakh businesspeople to visit leading technology companies such as Google, META, and Tesla.

Strategic discussions to build bridges

Representatives of the Parasat Business Club held a separate meeting with the Kazakh Ambassador to the U.S., Yerzhan Ashikbayev, and KCBANA Director Ainur Rodgers. They discussed prospects for the development of Kazakh business in the U.S. and the American market as part of the “B5+1” initiative – the business counterpart to C5+1, the diplomatic platform for Central Asian countries and the U.S., – which took place in Almaty in March.

“Our mission is to provide Kazakh entrepreneurs with knowledge and connections in the U.S., stimulating investment opportunities and strengthening partnerships in various sectors,” Rodgers said.

KCBANA also holds cultural events to improve the image of Kazakhstan in the U.S. In October 2023, a week of Kazakh cinema was held as part of the first Central Asian Film Festival, dedicated to the Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Future projects focus on the social sphere, including support for children, orphans, women entrepreneurs, and people with special needs. KCBANA plans to facilitate an exchange between doctors from the U.S. and Kazakhstan, including several free maxillofacial surgeries in Kazakhstan by American surgeons.

Marat Birimzhan, the foreign representative of the Kazakh Invest national company in North America, emphasized that the forum discussed projects to attract investments in Kazakhstan’s non-oil sector, including areas such as mechanical engineering, agriculture, transport and logistics, tourism, healthcare, education, and others.

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