Symposium on Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Trade in Afghanistan and Heart of Asia Region hosted by the University of Central Asia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Date: 23 February 2014
The University of Central Asia (part of the Aga Khan Development Network) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the Small and Medium Enterprises and Regional Trade in Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia Region Symposium that place at the Serena Hotel in Kabul on 23 February 2014. 
 
The symposium, opened by Ms. Roya Rahmani, Director General of Regional Cooperation Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had two interactive moderated panels with one focussed on presentations and a discussion on the current dynamics of formal and informal small and medium enterprise (SME) participation in regional trade; and the other on unlocking the potential of SMEs in trade.  Participants included representatives of Afghan governments, international organisations, foreign delegates, Afghan and Central Asian businesses, representatives of chambers of commerce and industry representatives, civil society and academia. 
 
This symposium was held within the Heart of Asia – Istanbul process framework, as part of the Trade Commerce and Investment Opportunities, and Education Confidence Building Measures. The discussions focused on SME development in Afghanistan and the context of its trade with Central Asia. Potential solutions to challenges and recommendations for action by governments, business intermediary organisations and other actors were highlighted in a session on unlocking the potential of SMEs in regional trade.
 
The symposium was supported by the Government of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
 
Ms. Roya Rahmani, Director of the Regional Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed that the main dynamism of business and economic exchange in Afghanistan and the ‘Heart of Asia’ region, especially between Afghanistan and Central Asia is the small and medium enterprises; and the regional countries could attempt towards its empowerment. It’s only possible through regional cooperation and confidence building among regional countries in the ‘Heart of Asia’ region. 
 
“Small and medium enterprises employ the majority of those in the labour force and account for a significant part of GDP. Supporting their growth including through regional trade should be an important element of national economic policy,” said Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, UCA Director General.
 
The Institute of Public Policy and Administration aims to provide in-depth analysis of Central Asian economic policies and organise quality professional development opportunities for civil servants in the region. For further information, please visit:  http://www.ucentralasia.org/Research/ippa