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United States Chamber of Commerce

Mission statement:
The Eurasia Business Platform (EBP) s a U.S. Chamber initiative to provide the U.S Government and other relevant institutions with the strategic business outlook of U.S. Chamber members focused on Central Asia, the Caucasus, Ukraine and Turkey. The EBP is a program that will allow members to create and maintain dialog, access, and strategic interaction with key regional governments and business decisions makers.
Central Asia, the Caucasus, Ukraine and Turkey sit at a historic economic crossroads from China to Europe, and Iran to Russia. Not only do many countries in the region possess over 75 percent of the world's oil and natural gas reserves, but there is great potential for substantial growth outside the energy sector. Moreover, these countries lie between the world's fastest growing markets and the most important investment centers for American business: Europe, China, Russia and India.
Objective: The EBP fosters regional cooperation and integration with a particular focus on transport development and facilitating trade in a way that supports today's global supply chain security requirements, i.e., secure trade facilitation. In addition, the EBP promotes economic diversification and the adoption of transparent economic policies that protect foreign investment. The EBP allows the business community to contribute to the positive development of a  strategically  important  part  of the  world.
Who is the EBP?
A group of leading U.S. Chamber member companies who want to be part of developing future strategic policy recommendations for this important region.
The Chamber Strategy: The U.S. Chamber will utilize a combination of expert talent in Washington, DC, its regional offices in Brussels, Athens, and Moscow, and a vast network of regional AmCham affiliations to leverage access in the public and private sectors and advocate for U.S. Chamber member companies interested in developing dynamic long-term relationships in Eurasia
1st Annual Conference EBP: December 3, 2007 Washington D.C. hosted the 1st Annual Conference EBP, on the topic 'Growth Imperatives and Regional Responsibilities'. Among the issues discussed were: 'Transport Development and Secure Trade Facilitation', 'Economic Diversification and Investment Protection', 'Eurasia Global Risks', looking at both economical and political implications.
The Conference was held in partnership with American Chambers of Commerce of: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Ainura Cholponkulova, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in the Kyrgyz Republic represented Kyrgyzstan in the conference. The American Chambers of Commerce of Eurasia also met with top state officials of Trade Department, State Department, U.S. Senators, and representatives of the business community among others.

EU supports expansion of cross-border cooperation in Central Asia
December 10, 2007. The European Union provided 12 million euros to support expansion of cross-border cooperation in Central Asia. Mr. Jorg Ketelsen, Charge D'Affaires of the European Commission to Kyrgyzstan, remarked this at a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. According to him, this project is designed for the period till June 2010 and funds will be distributed among all states of the region, depending on an extent of their participation in such processes. The budget has been already endorsed, and funds will be distributed within the framework of the EU border management program for Central Asia (BOMCA), Mr. Ketelsen said. Besides, further some 5 million euros will be distributed among Central Asia's states within the framework of the EU drug action program for Central Asia (CADAP).


ADB Extends $3M Grant to Facilitate Trade in Central Asia
DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN (19 December 2007) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $3 million grant to facilitate trade among member nations of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) as part of efforts to promote sustained economic progress across the region.
The Integrated Trade Facilitation Support for CAREC will receive an additional $600,000 from the governments of CAREC countries to complete the funding requirement.
"The outcome of the project is greater volume of trade due to time and cost savings as a result of coordinated cross-border regulations, procedures and standards, as well as improved trade logistics," said Ying Qian, Principal Economist ofADB's East Asia Department.
The project supports the implementation of the trade facilitation component of the Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy endorsed by the sixth Ministerial Conference on CAREC in November 2007. CAREC is composed of Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Turkmenistan also participates in CAREC's trade facilitation work.
Strengthened customs cooperation is the core program of the trade facilitation strategy. The project will also come up with an expanded scope of the work program to address broader issues of trade facilitation, focus on trade facilitation efforts on the CAREC transport corridors, adopt a results-based approach in monitoring time and cost savings as the key indicators of the program, and support logistics assessments and planning focusing on priority corridors and developing national and regional implementation strategies to facilitate trade.
The project will also support bilateral initiatives among CAREC countries and enhance partnership between CAREC's participating multilateral institutions and key international agencies supporting customs reform, trade facilitation and logistics development in the region. It will also promote dialogue and cooperation with the private sector, which would help formulate and utilize trade facilitation measures, and undertake capacity building in areas of integrated trade facilitation and in broader areas related to trade and transport. The project will also produce knowledge products such as policy and strategic papers.
Trade facilitation plays a vital role for CAREC countries, especially in expanding intra- and interregional trade, which spur investments and economic growth in the long term. Trade facilitation refers to a wide range of activities such as import and export procedures, transport formalities, payments, and insurance and other financial requirements.
Despite years of reform and intensified regional cooperation efforts, the participation of Central Asian countries in international trade remains limited mainly due to the unnecessarily high costs of trade due to, among other reasons, the countries being landlocked, which makes trade and transit problematic.
At most borders, it is necessary to comply with a range of procedures in addition to customs, including animal quarantine, inspection of plants and other agricultural materials, checking of drivers' licenses, axle loads, and compliance with other road rules.
Simplification and harmonization of such procedures are integral to trade facilitation. While international agreements on standard norms can help, a key requirement is to shift policy to place more emphasis on trade facilitation rather than trade control.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through pro-poor sustainable economic growth, social development, and good governance. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members 48 from the region. In 2006, it approved loans and grants for projects totaling $8.5 billion, and technical assistance amounting to almost $242 million.

Text by Central Asian Getway E-Newsletter

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