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Diversification in Central Asia is focus of UN-sponsored business forum

Diversification in Central Asia is focus of UN-sponsored business forum

63rd Commission Session, Almaty
With the economies of Central Asia hurtling forward but tied to a single sector, some 300 business leaders and policymakers gathered today for a United Nations-sponsored forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan, to discuss diversification and international competitiveness.

The region is among the fastest growing in the world, registering a 12.4 per cent growth rate in 2006, but too much of the growth has been driven by oil, gas and mineral resources industries, according to the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), which organized the conference in cooperation with the government of Kazakhstan.

“Only through opening up or greater liberalization can economic diversification be achieved, thereby limiting the risk of reliance on a few commodities,” said Mr. Kim Hak-Su, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNESCAP Executive Secretary at the fourth Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF).

The theme of the forum is “At the Crossroads between Asia and Europe: Harnessing the Possibilities of Central Asia,” and in his opening address, Mr. Kim noted that the region was once a crossroads of global trade.

“With the right policies in place, it can once again be an important part of that trade,” he said, adding that efficient transport procedures were crucial in that regard.

The forum is timed to coincide with the 63rd UNESCAP Commission Session, also taking place in Almaty from 17-23 May, so that its recommendations can be transmitted to the trade ministers attending that high-level meeting.

Both meetings represent the first of their kind to be held in Central Asia since UNESCAP was established 60 years ago, the agency said.