EU-BOMNAF is pleased to announce the successful culmination of the 2015 Afghanistan – Central Asia Regional Trade and Cooperation Conference, held in Dushanbe on the 24th and 25th November 2015. Delegates travelled from countries and organisations throughout the region, clearly demonstrating a commitment to international investment in development.
Not simply a forum for discussion, a core aim of the event was to stimulate creation of ways and means to achieve useful, practical outcomes to issues discussed at the event. More than merely a chance to network and exchange business cards, the EU-BOMNAF conference presented a vital opportunity to strengthen the network of people committed to cooperation in this region.
The same key words were expressed repeatedly during presentations, setting the overall tone. Much was said about facilitation, harmonisation and simplification of capacity building structures as well as in infrastructure networks. The challenge laid at delegates’ feet now is how to achieve these aims practically and cooperatively. A further key consideration will always be sustainability – how all those involved will ensure that steps already taken in Central Asia continue to have a positive effect into the long term.
International media coverage of Central Asia can sometimes be less than positive, but the BOMNAF conference showed that steps are being taken continually to advance regional trade, commerce and cooperation. Technological developments such as data-sharing and the consolidation of many sometimes confusing border control systems into a single, coherent programme are already under way. In addition, Afghanistan’s imminent ascension to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) follows Tajikistan’s own entry in 2013, and this should lead to a more connected and cooperative region.
BOMNAF’s Annual Conferences play an important role in ensuring that discussion and collaboration continue. Many of the delegates expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to focus on trade and commerce, and their findings, formalised within an official Final Declaration (available online in English, Russian and Dari), will be submitted to the next Heart of Asia Conference, to be held in Pakistan during December 2015. This will offer possibilities for further enhancements in regional cooperation across Afghanistan and South and Central Asia.