BERLIN, 18 May 2016 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the OSCE business conference “Connectivity for Commerce and Investment” in the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin today, with close to 1000 high-ranking official and business representatives from the entire OSCE region and beyond attending.
The two-day conference is the first major OSCE event for private sector participants since the CSCE Conference on Economic Co-operation in Bonn in 1990. “The aim of the conference is to contribute to both economic opportunities and broader political confidence-building,” the Chairperson-in-Office stressed. He underlined that, even though the world is becoming ever more connected, there is still a need to strengthen economic co-operation and to conduct an open dialogue about initiatives for integration, particularly in the OSCE region.
The conference, which is expected to create momentum for greater economic exchange in the OSCE area and further the removal of barriers to cross-border co-operation, is a central element in Germany’s 2016 OSCE Chairmanship programme. It is an opportunity for policy makers and business representatives to identify technical bottlenecks and obstacles to economic co-operation and to discuss different approaches to overcoming them, focusing on concrete solutions.
Participants include high-ranking official delegations from the 57 OSCE participating States, the 11 Partners for Co-operation and other interested countries, including China. In the plenary sessions, panels and workshops, they will consider topics such as economic hubs and transport corridors, trade and investment as facilitators for connectivity, trade facilitation and good governance, security of supply routes, the digital transformation, the EU-China Connectivity Platform, cross-border transport in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus, free trade in regions with protracted conflicts, the Western Balkans Connectivity Agenda and strengthening economic connectivity in the Eurasian space.
“The OSCE’s work in the field of trade facilitation and good governance promotes transparency and predictability of procedures and regulations and thus stimulates government accountability towards the business community as well as its citizens,” said Halil Yurdakul Yigitgüden, the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities.
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