BISHKEK, KYRGZ REPUBLIC - More than 40 business leaders and policymakers from Central and South Asia met on 4 November to establish a Regional Business Roundtable (RBR) to expand the involvement of the business community in economic cooperation in the region.
The RBR will include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The RBR Preparatory Meeting was held immediately before the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC). The RBR meeting developed the Central-South Asia Regional Business Roundtable Bishkek Action Plan.
"The Central-South Asia Regional Business Roundtable will provide an important channel for communication between the public and private sectors, a means to facilitate greater trade and investment across borders, and a crucial link connecting domestic business communities to each other and the world," ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said in a keynote speech at the Ministerial Conference.
The meeting identified four key objectives for the RBR:
- to inject private sector inputs into Central and South Asia regional cooperation programs;
- to build an effective public-private sector partnership mechanism for regional cooperation;
- to improve the business environment; and
- to develop the capacities of the business communities to undertake regional business.
"The RBR will open a two-way channel of communication, providing the business communities information on relevant regional cooperation activities and providing policymakers feedback on the programs and projects being implemented," said meeting co-chair Mr. Robert Bestani, Director General of Private Sector Operations at ADB.
The RBR is expected to focus initially on three areas consistent with the pressing needs of business which also form the core areas of various regional cooperation programs in Central and South Asia: trade facilitation and policy; energy; and transport.
Next steps identified in the Bishkek Action Plan include the dissemination by business leaders of information about the RBR in their home countries, and the preparation by ADB and its development partners of a concept paper on administrative mechanisms for establishing the Roundtable.