The Caspian Policy Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held the 3rd Trans-Caspian Forum in Washington, D.C.
The Caspian Policy Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held the third Trans-Caspian Forum on May 18th in Washington, D.C. with the support of the embassies of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The policy and business leaders from the U.S. and seven trans-Caspian corridor countries came together at the Hall of Flags of the US Chamber of Commerce and discussed opportunities and challenges for enhancing mutually beneficial strategic engagement in business, trade, and investment at four dedicated panels.
Gary Litman, Vice President, Global Initiatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and and Efgan Nifti, Director of the Caspian Policy Center, kick-started the Forum with the welcome speech and mentioned the importance of a shared platform such as the Trans-Caspian Forum where business leaders, foreign-policy experts, and government officials from the United States and the regional countries can be in a dialogue to explore new directions and identify new opportunities.
After the keynote statements by Brian McFeeters, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of State and Matthew Edwards, Director, Office of Russia, Ukraine & Eurasia, Department of Commerce the forum continued by the addresses delivered by the ambassadors and high-rank officials of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Georgia, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.
The very first panel – Trans Caspian Region and the US: Emerging Partnership Through Trade and Commerce– was moderated by Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, Board Member of the Caspian Policy Center and included panelists such as Lisa Curtis, Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Central Asia at the National Security Council (White House), Dr. Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi, Chief Advisor to the President of Afghanistan, Elmir Valizade, Deputy Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan, Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia and Fatih Metin, Deputy Minister of Economy of Turkey.
“We recognize the importance of the economic development in the Caspian region,” said Lisa Curtis sharing her thoughts on the trans-Caspian corridor. “Our engagement with the Caspian region helps advance American influence there and helps attract more American companies,” she added.
Panel B: Linking Trans Caspian via Infrastructure Development: Air, Rail, Sea moderated by Luke Coffey, Foreign Policy Director at the Heritage Foundation included panelist such as Tom Crabtree, Regional Director for Air Cargo of BOEING Commercial Airplanes , Bob Watters, Senior VP of SSA Marine, Tural Aliyev, Advisor to the Director General, Baku International Sea Trade Port CJSC, Sulaiman Lutfi, Chairman of the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce, Zafer Ates, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, and Tariyel Mirzayev, Head of Department of Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping CJSC.
“We are very excited about the Trans-Caspian Forum and think it will create many opportunities for the region countries,” Bob Watters from SSA Marine said to the forum guests. “The U.S. & Georgia Consortium will start the Port operations in 2020. Anaklia Deep Sea Port will receive Panamax&Post-Panamax ships which will dramatically increase the East-West connectivity,” he added.
The third panel called Trans Caspian as a Global Hub for Energy Supply and Security and moderated by Robert F. Cekuta, Former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan included panelists such as Bakhtiyar Aslanbeyli, Vice President of BP, Elshad Nassirov, Vice President of SOCAR, Dr. Muhammad Qayoumi, Chief Advisor to the President of Afghanistan and Geir Westgaard, Vice President of Political and Public Affairs and Head of DC Office of Equinor.
“For Azerbaijan, it is very important to build pipelines to unlock the country’s energy transportation and promote the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey energy corridor,” said Mr. Aslanbayli sharing his perspective on the trans-Caspian corridor and its benefits for the Caspian region.
The very last panel moderated by Efgan Nifti focused on the connectivity, regional transformation, innovation, and technology hub in the Caspian region and included panelists such as Matthew Goodman, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy and Senior Adviser for Asian Economics at CSIS, Azad Jafarli, Chief of Administration, State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Abbas Mammadov, Advisor to the Chairman of Azercosmos OJSC and Tahir Gozel, Board Member of Azersun Holding.
“We started from the preparation of young generation of public servants who understand the pros and cons of electronic public service delivery,” said Mr. Jafarli speaking about the modernization of the public service delivery in Azerbaijan. “We won the UN Public Service award among 839 candidates for the best quality of the public service,” he added.
The forum ended with the closing remarks by Gary Litman and Efgan Nifti.