June 17 – 19, 2020

Washington, D.C. 

5th Annual Trans-Caspian Forum

The Trans-Caspian Trade and Transit Corridor is a regional integrator, trade facilitator, and viable transit connector between Europe and Asia. Comprising of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the west, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to the east of the Caspian Sea, this corridor brings together a market more than 200 million strong with $400 billion in overall trade while connecting the economies of the European Union and China along with providing increasingly important access to Russia, the Middle East, Pakistan, and India.  

 Connecting trade, people and economies, the modern Trans-Caspian corridor has matured to strategic importance with an extensive and integrated network of infrastructure, special economic zones, harmonized customs/cross-border procedures, and more along this route.  

 The United States has been playing an important role in developing this corridor, including through joint initiatives to increase regional connectivity via oil and gas pipelines such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Southern Gas Corridor, the  Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway and Lapis-Lazuli transport route, and the C5+1” format.  While these initiatives contributed to the increased business between the United States and the countries of the corridor, the overall emerging business potential of the corridor is under-explored and trade with the United States is significantly lagging behind the EU and China.  

 Building on the strategic partnerships forged between the USA and the corridor countries concerned and the region’s growing business opportunities, the Trans-Caspian Forum presents a leading platform to discuss the U.S. engagement with the strategically important Trans-Caspian corridor, including investments and development of strategic infrastructure for benefiting the United States, the corridor countries and the business community.  

 Policy and business leaders from the United States and the Trans-Caspian corridor countries will come together at the 5th Trans-Caspian Forum on April 15 – 17, 2020 to discuss opportunities and challenges in enhancing their strategic engagement and explore business, trade, and investment opportunities to the benefit of all concerned.  

 The Caspian Policy Center and the Embassies of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkeyand Uzbekistan, are the co-organizers of the Forum, hosted by the Heritage Foundation. 

Sponsors and Partners

Special Roundtable – Agribusiness in the Greater Trans-Caspian Region 

An essential sector of Trans-Caspian economies, agriculture is at a critical point of transformation and modernization. Gradually shifting from self-sufficiency to an export orientation, Trans-Caspian governments and businesses search for ways to tap agricultural export markets to capitalize on their respective comparative advantages. To succeed in that endeavor and maximize their agricultural potential, however, the region must overcome various challenges pertaining to the legacy Soviet infrastructure and the rapidly approaching future of changing resource availability.  

08:30 – 09:00 am Registration and Breakfast  

09:00 – 09:10  am  Opening Remarks 

08:30 – 09:00 am Registration and Breakfast  

09:00 – 09:10  am  Opening Remarks 

09:10 – 10:00 am  Panel 1 – Effective Use of Agriculture Resources 

  • Addressing Water Scarcity through Management and Conservation 
  • Tuning Response to Market Demand 
  • Diversification of Marketing Channels 
  • Incentivizing Productivity and Investment  

10:00 – 10:05 am Break  

10:05 – 10:55 am  Panel 2 – Tapping Agricultural Export Markets 

  • Developing Market Infrastructure  
  • Facilitating Market Intelligence and Clusters Approach 
  • Entering Profitable Value Chains 

10:55 – 11:00 am Closing Remarks  

08:30 – 09:00 am        Registration and breakfast 
09:00 – 09:10 am        Opening Remarks : Caspian Policy Center Executive Director EfganNifti and Heritage Foundation Representative 

09:10 – 09:35 am        Ambassadorial Welcome Remarks  

  • Afghanistan, Roya Rahmani 
  • Azerbaijan, Elin Suleymanov  
  • Georgia, David Bakradze  
  • Kazakhstan, ErzhanKazykhanov 
  • Turkey, Serdar Kılıç 
  • Tajikistan, Farhod Salim 
  • Uzbekistan, JavlonVakhabov  

09:35 – 09:55 am        Keynote Statement - High level officials from the U.S. Government 

  • Keith Krach, Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, Department of State, United States (invited) 
  • Ambassador Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State (invited)  
  • Laura Cooper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, United States (invited)


09:55 – 11:15 am        Panel - Ministerial Roundtable: U.S.-Caspian Emerging Partnership 

  • Afghanistan, Ministerial level representative 
  • Azerbaijan, Ministerial level representative  
  • Georgia, Ministerial level representative  
  • Kazakhstan, Ministerial level representative  
  • Tajikistan, Ministerial level representative
  • Turkey, Ministerial level representative  
  • Uzbekistan, Ministerial level representative  

Moderator:  Ambassador (ret.) Richard Hoagland, Board of Directors Member, Caspian Policy Center 

11:15 – 11:30 am        Coffee Break 


11:30 – 01:00 pm        Panel - Linking the Trans Caspian and Eurasia through Hard and Soft Infrastructure Development

Panel Speakers

  • Adam Boehler, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. International Development Finance Corpo-ration (invited)
  • Ian Steff, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce (invited)
  • Kairat Kelimbetov, Governor, Astana International Financial Center (invited) 
  • Senior government/company representatives from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan

Moderator:  Efgan Nifti, Executive Director, Caspian Policy Center 

01:00 – 02:00 pm        Lunch 

 02:00 – 03:20 pm        Panel - Trans Caspian as a Global Hub for Energy Supplies, Security, and Sustainability 

  • Frank Fannon, Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State   
  • Robert Scher, Head of International Affairs, BP (invited)
  • Elshad Nassirov, Vice-President, SOCAR (invited)
  • Senior Representative, BOTAŞ
  • Senior Representative, KazMunayGas 
  • Senior government/company representatives from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan

Moderator:  Ambassador (ret.) Robert Cekuta, Board of Directors Member, Caspian Policy Center 


03:20 – 03:35 pm        Coffee Break 

03:35 – 05:00 pm   No Events 

05:00 – 07:00 pm  Exclusive Reception on U.S.-Caspian Relations, hosted at the Caspian Policy Center, 11th floor (separate registration  up to 60)  

Special Roundtable — Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in the Trans-Caspian Region 


Start-ups and entrepreneurship in tourism, telecommunications, information technology, medical care, and other areas offer intriguing prospects for future growth.  Getting the environment right to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship is key as is learning from the experience of others in the region. 


8:30 – 9:00 am Registration and Breakfast 

9:00 – 9:30 am Opening Remarks  

9:30  10:30 am Panel 1 – Systems for Nurturing Innovation 

 Panel of government and private sector speakers addressing conditions conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation, including: 

  • Finance  
  • Legal/regulatory/government conditions and actions 
  • Education  
  • Positive public perceptions towards entrepreneurs and innovation 


10:30 – 10:50 am Break 

10:50 – 12:00 pm Panel 2 – Case Studies from the Trans-Caspian Region 

Speakers from U.S. firms and companies in the Caspian region drawing on their specific experiences to discuss what does and does not encourage innovation/start-ups.  Sectors of focus: 

  • Information Technology 
  • Tourism 
  • Medicine 
  • Telecommunications 


12:00 – 1:00 pm Networking Lunch 

Our Speakers
Adam Boehler
Adam Boehler (invited)
Chief Executive Officer, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
Laura Cooper (invited)
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia
Lisa Curtis
Lisa Curtis (invited)
Senior Director for Central and South Asia, National Security Council, The White House
Frank Fannon (invited)
Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources Affairs
Keith Krach (invited)
Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Elshad Nassirov
Elshad Nassirov (invited)
Vice President for Investments and Marketing, SOCAR
Robert Scher
Robert Scher (invited)
Head of International Affairs, BP America
Ian Steff
Ian Steff (invited)
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration

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