Sixth Annual Central Asian Trade Forum

Concept Paper

Almaty, Kazakhstan, Rixos Hotel, September 7-8, 2016


The Central Asian Trade Forum (CATF) is a widely recognized event promoting trade development, bringing together entrepreneurs, traders, business leaders, and policymakers from Central and South Asia, and the broader region, in order to promote regional economic connectivity and export diversification. Organized by the US Agency for International Development, with the support of multiple partners, the sixth annual Central Asian Trade Forum will take place September 7-8 2016, at the Rixos Hotel in Almaty, Kazakhstan.


Objective: The objective of the Central Asian Trade Forum is to increase the export competitiveness of high value-added sectors in the region, such as horticulture, textiles, and transport and logistics. Under the theme “Export Potential and Trade Development: New Challenges and Opportunities in Central Asia”, CATF VI aims to address trade facilitation challenges and promote regional trade with Central and South Asian countries, and markets beyond. Other objectives include:

  • Inform on export potential, competitiveness, and development prospects of Central Asian markets   
  • Create conditions and platforms for concluding trade deals, such as the trade exhibition
  • Develop recommendations and proposals to eliminate trade development barriers
  • Motivate participants to develop export capacity, through CATF’s “Best Exporter” award, which recognizes successful exporters based on their company’s achievements


Purpose: The purpose of the sixth annual Central Asian Trade Forum is threefold. First, CATF VI will provide a platform for participants to engage in meaningful public-private dialogue (‘CATF Shares’).  Second, CATF VI’s targeted B2B meetings and trade exhibition will generate new trade deals and increase export volumes (‘CATF Sells’).  Third, CATF VI will feature technical capacity-building trainings for exporters and entrepreneurs who wish to enhance their skills (‘CATF Skills’). 


Proposed Theme: Export Potential and Trade Development: New Challenges and Opportunities in Central Asia


Structure and Content: The two-day Forum will include an official opening ceremony, a plenary session, technical sessions with B2B breakout sessions, fashion show, gala dinner, and “Best Exporter of CATF VI” award ceremony. A Trade Exhibition will take place simultaneously throughout the Forum. After the Forum, CATF will also host a site visit to the Khorgos International Centre of Boundary Cooperation on September 9, 2016, at the Kazakhstan-China border.


CATF Shares’ (Day 1): Policy-driven, public-private dialogue

‘CATF Shares’ includes the official opening ceremony, plenary session of the Trade Forum and Conference on trade development in boarder regions during the site visit to Khorgos. ‘CATF Shares’ brings together private actors involved in trade and trade facilitation. The objective of the plenary session is to facilitate knowledge transfer, networking, and to provide a platform for productive public-private dialogue on trade-related issues. A Q&A at the end of the session will encourage a two-way dialogue between the public and private sectors.


CATF Sells’ (Day 1and Day 2): Buyer-driven, B2B

CATF Sells’ is focused on generating sales and the business-to-business (buyer-driven) component. This component will be organized and incorporated into the Forum in a variety of ways, such as B2B meetings, the second part of each technical session (‘CATF Skills’), trade exhibition, and site visit to ICBCC "Khorgos".


CATF Skills’ (Day 2): Technical skills, capacity-building

CATF Skills’ is the Forum’s third component, which provides targeted trainings and seminars to build the capacity of participants representing Central Asia’s business community. In this component, international experts provide trainings and seminars on specific topics such as business development strategies and harnessing innovation to increase exports.


The content of CATF VI will focus on the core areas of transportation/logistics, horticulture, textiles, women business leaders, and policy updates related to these sectors.  Additional topics to be included will be determined by the Steering Committee.  Content is divided into technical tracks (transport/logistics, horticulture, textiles, etc.) that participants can self-select, thereby ensuring that each session affords the desired relevance, level of discussion, and networking opportunities to each participant. 


Illustrative sessions include:

  • Transport and Logistics
    • Improving Logistics and Supply Chain Management Skills
    • SPS Issues, Transit Agreements, and Border Processes
    • Next Steps for the Transport & Logistics Partnership Group
  • Horticulture
    • Improving Quality and Competitiveness of Horticulture Export Products
    • Diversifying Export Markets – Attracting International Buyers 
  • Utilizing innovations to increase productivity and expand export development
  • Doing business in Central Asia
  • Expanding economic opportunities for women-entrepreneurs
  • Flour Fortification


The trade exhibition brings together buyers and sellers, and allows vendors to showcase their products to participants from other countries, thereby broadening companies’ geographic reach. The exhibition also serves as a venue for exchanging new ideas and information, establishing new contacts, and strengthening existing business relationships. Exhibitors will include the following three categories:


  1. Businesses from Central Asia’s core industry sectors (horticulture, textiles, transport/logistics)
  2. Business associations, donor organizations, and trade promotion agencies
  3. “National corners” - delegates from participating countries will set up national booths highlighting their countries’ cultures and traditions. The national corners will allow delegates to showcase national goods and products.


ICBCC "Khorgos” Site Visit: On September 9, 2016, CATF will organize a site visit to the Khorgos International Centre of Boundary Cooperation at the Kazakh-Chinese border. The site visit is designed for approximately 100 participants representing international organizations, regional embassies, business associations, transport and logistics companies, and other relevant stakeholders involved in facilitating trade and export of high value-added sectors in the region. The purpose of the site visit is to explore opportunities for export diversification, establish direct business contacts, and study issues related to taxation and visa regulations.


Methodology: CATF VI will leverage USAID, US Embassy and donor partners to recruit and attract high-level keynote speakers. Speakers for CATF VI will be selected several weeks in advance of the Forum, with the assistance and input from the Steering Committee. Given space constraints created by the venue, USAID/REC will focus on inviting those participants who are best positioned and most likely to benefit from CATF, e.g. participants with expertise and experience in key sectors. CATF VI will use Information Technology (IT) and DVC solutions and capabilities to measure results/outcomes, reach as wide an audience as possible, and broadly disseminate information. All presentations from CATF VI will be translated into English and Russian and will be available online. For capacity-building trainings, USAID/REC will measure results by following up with trainees via survey monkey to assess individual needs.


CATF Sustainability and Sponsorship: The sixth annual CATF will charge a fee for certain aspects of the Forum, including booth space at the trade exhibition and the Khorgos site visit. CATF VI will also expand its efforts to attract commercial sponsorship from domestic and regionally based organizations. Possible sponsors include large export-oriented enterprises, retail chains, transportation and logistics companies, donors, and financial institutions.  Additional details can be found in the Central Asian Trade Forum Sustainability Plan.


CATF VI Partners: Forum partners include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), GIZ’s “Support to Regional Economic Cooperation in Central Asia”Program, IFC, World Bank Group, State bodies, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Agency for Export and Investments - KAZNEX INVEST, Central Asian business associations, WorldFood Kazakhstan and AgroWorld Kazakhstan (ITECA), and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).



  • Representatives of State bodies
  • Representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, business associations and international organizations that have experience in trade development
  • Representatives and entrepreneurs from small, medium and large enterprises representing various sectors of the non-oil and gas industry
  • Other trade partnership organizations from Central Asia and abroad


Registration: Participants will register on the CATF website ( Confirmation of registration will be sent by the coordinators of the Trade Forum to the applicant’s email within three business days. Key information, such as confirmed speakers and targeted audiences of specific sessions, will be posted on the CATF website. Advance registration will be required for the Khorgos site visit and trade exhibition participation.


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