Ashgabat, April 27, 2016 – On April 26-27, the World Bank Group, jointly with the Government of Turkmenistan, organized a high-level conference on Increasing Competitiveness.
The World Bank Group team, represented by the World Bank Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia region, the IFC Regional Manager for Central Asia and technical experts, presented a series of sessions around the theme of competitiveness and trade facilitation, focusing on sectors that are relevant to Turkmenistan’s diversification agenda. Partners from the International Monetary Fund, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank and USAID also joined efforts and presented during these sessions.
The event was attended by officials from Government ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and Development, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, Central Bank, Main State Tax Service, Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations, Ministry of Agriculture and Water, Ministry of Railway Transport, Ministry of Automobile Transport, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Textile Industry, Ministry of Industry, Institute of Strategic Planning and Economic Development, Institute for Trade Turnover Research, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists. A number of representatives from leading private sector enterprises also benefited from the sessions.
The Conference aimed to acquaint representatives of the Turkmen public and private sector with global and regional knowledge and experience on the topic of competitiveness, highlighting best practices and examples in priority sectors for the Turkmen economy in increasing their competitiveness at the regional level. Representatives of the World Bank Group and partner IFIs also learned about the strategic priorities of the Government of Turkmenistan during presentations by Turkmen officials.
Organization of this year’s event was in a double format. The first day was a standard conference with speakers and presentations prepared and delivered by the World Bank Group, partner IFIs and the Turkmen government, followed by panel discussions. On the second day, four master-classes were organized around specific topics of interest for the Turkmen authorities with a focus on the 2017-2021 Government mid-term development strategy.
“The fall of energy prices and the depreciation of the manat has opened a window of opportunity for Turkmenistan to become more internationally competitive. To seize this opportunity, integration into the multilateral trading system is important,” said World Bank Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia, Hans Timmer.
The Conference focused on a range of topics around economic competitiveness and growth, and covered such issues as the role of public policy to enhance skills and foster diversified Small and Medium Enterprises growth, improving diversification and competitiveness of the agribusiness sector, Turkmenistan’s export promotion strategy, competitiveness in the non-oil and gas sector, investment policy priorities to attract FDI, national priorities for connectivity and transit, transit corridors, fostering improved trade facilitation, and others.
“Open trade and investment regimes are key drivers of growth. Greater integration into regional economies will allow Turkmenistan to exploit its comparative advantages, gain access to global markets, and tap foreign capital and advanced technologies,” said Moazzam Mekan, IFC Regional Manager for Central Asia. “IFC is supporting this throughout the region with initiatives to promote entrepreneurship, improve trade facilitation, and strengthen the investment climate.”
The Conference was part of the World Bank Group's engagement with Turkmenistan for fiscal years 2016-17. The main purpose of the Country Engagement Strategy is to provide support for analytical and advisory activities designed to assist the government address selected technical issues related to the country’s development priorities.