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The business circles of Turkmenistan and the European Union continued their dialogue this September as part of the forum on investments and partnership titled "Turkmenistan is the Heart of the Great Silk Road" in the capital city of the Republic of Austria.
The Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan (UIET) acted as an organizer of the Vienna Forum that was purely pragmatic in nature. While preparing for the upcoming working visit, Turkmen entrepreneurs aimed to present their export potential and attract investments in large-scale projects, and the composition of the delegation was in tune with this objective. It included the leadership of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and its structural divisions, as well as export-oriented large companies and enterprises, livestock and fish-breeding complexes, transport and logistics sectors.
The successful outcome of the forthcoming meeting was predetermined by the existing contacts with Austrian businessmen and the activities of the Trade Mission of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in the Republic of Austria. This structure was set up last June with the view of developing bilateral trade and economic cooperation and establishing the productive business cooperation between representatives of the business circles of the two countries.
In his welcoming speech at the opening ceremony in the conference room of Hotel Savoyen Vienna, the head of the Turkmen delegation, UIET Chairman Alexander Dadayev spoke about the objectives of the Vienna forum on investments and partnership.
Noting the positive dynamics of development of the Turkmen private sector that in recent years has enjoyed full government support in implementing large-scale investment projects, the head of UIET outlined promising areas for cooperation and establishing joint ventures with European partners.
In the following welcoming speeches, Vice-President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber Richard Schenz and Secretary General of the same structure Karlheinz Kopf noted the reciprocal benefits of the partnership between the business circles of Turkmenistan and Austria.
The humanitarian aspect of cooperation was highlighted by Silapberdy Nurberdyev, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the Republic of Austria, and Ned Berger, Honorary Member of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan, Head of the Austrian-Turkmen Society that celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
At the forum, the host country was represented by the high-ranking officials of state-owned structures and business circles of the Republic of Austria, as well as big companies from a number of European countries who are experienced in cooperating with Turkmen entrepreneurs or interested in establishing mutually beneficial partnership. These companies specialize in mining, engineering, agriculture and food industry, road construction, transport and logistics, health care, tourism, printing and software.
The high-level Austrian officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Economy and the Industrial Union of Austria also attended the business forum. The Turkmen-Austrian meeting also saw participation of representatives of the German Business Council for Central Asia, the European Union Project "Support for Development of Public Administration in Turkmenistan" and the European Union Project "Assistance to Development of Agriculture and Sustainable Villages in Turkmenistan".
The forum agenda covered topics such as strengthening and expanding trade and economic ties, familiarizing the Austrian business community with investment opportunities in Turkmenistan, prospects for implementing joint projects to establish innovative manufacturing enterprises and introducing advanced information and marketing technologies.
The heads of OJSC Khazar Balyk, JSC Turkmenkaliy, UIET's Agriculture Department, Board of Directors of the Turkmen Transport and Logistics Association, the Chairman of the National Organization of Turkmenistan on Bar Codes made presentations of investment opportunities in Turkmenistan. There were also presented comprehensive reports on the National Tourist Zone "Avaza" and attraction of investments in development of the Turkmen seaside resort.
In their turn, Turkmen businessmen were briefed on the Austrian innovations in the field of mining and exploration of minerals, agriculture and agribusiness, production of organic good. Regional director for foreign economic relations with Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the Federal Economic Chamber of the Republic of Austria M.Angerer; Director of the Eurobranding Institute G.Hrebiek; Director for Central Asia of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in Turkmenistan N.McCain and managers of a number major Austrian companies made presentations of the promising areas of cooperation.
The forum participants exchanged views on the prospects of interaction for development of the private sector, harmonization of standards to improve further the business environment and financing of joint projects. The prospects for cooperation in the field of transport and logistics, as well as tourism along the Great Silk Road route was a separate topic of discussions.
The forum resulted in signing eight bilateral documents that provide for development of mutually beneficial cooperation. As part of the forum, there were held round-table discussions on the topics such as "Investments" and "Import to the EU", as well as bilateral meetings between businessmen of Turkmenistan and representatives of the Austrian business community. These activities led to making new contacts and cooperation agreements on improving business environment, promoting Turkmen goods to the European markets and joint activities. The forum participants noted the importance of holding such meetings on a regular basis to develop common approaches towards a common platform for the further efficient interaction.
During their visit to Austria, representatives of the agricultural sector viewed a large livestock complex located 50 kilometers from Vienna. They familiarized themselves with European technologies on breeding Simmental and Holstein cows, known for their milk productivity, that have already adapted to Turkmenistan's conditions. It is no secret that experienced Turkmen livestock breeders stake on purchasing cattle from abroad and breeding work through science-based techniques. At the same time, the Turkmen guests visiting the Austrian farm said they were greatly interested in learning the advanced identification technologies used by European breeders for improvement of the reliability of pedigree stocktaking and productive qualities of the breed. As part of their visit, representatives of the Turkmen agricultural industry also had a chance to visit the 2018 AgroTier International Fair of Animal Husbandry and Agriculture held in the Austrian city of Wels and get acquainted with the latest achievements of the industry.
The head of Rysgalli Zakhmet enterprise, which is successfully operating in the Turkmen construction sector, did not made secret of his particular interest in traveling to Vienna. In preparation for the opening of his own fisheries - a new business for him - he staked on the European technology. To this end, the entrepreneur visited a fish complex in one of the suburbs of Vienna. "The most important thing in this technology is the efficient use of water and energy resources, Mekan Klychev said enthusiastically. It is impressive that the Austrian fish complex occupies half a hectare, which is 20 times smaller than ours. At the same time, they produce 100 to 150 tons of fish annually." Austrian colleagues also shared their experience in manufacturing fishery products and marketing. The sides made agreements on cooperation at a consultative level, exchange of information and opening of joint ventures in the long term.
The meeting of representatives of Turkmen and European business circles was a success. There is a mutual desire to interact in a wide range of areas and accumulate a strong experience of partnership.
An exhibition at Hotel Savoyen Vienna reflected the business ideas for development of cooperation, where Turkmen entrepreneurs presented promising projects, including the projects on development of mineral deposits, construction of a highway and other infrastructural facilities. By tradition, a great number of carpet and souvenir products, national clothes, as well as Turkmen textiles were exhibited. The contribution by Turkmen entrepreneurs to the study of the history and culture of their native country was described in a video film about the unique discoveries at the historical monument, Shekhrislam, where scientists of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan actively conduct the archaeological work with the support of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The gastronomic sector of the exhibition featured confectionery produced by Turkmen private enterprises.
The Austrian-Turkmen Society organized a concert of Austrian musicians of "Galkynysh" orchestra for the guests from Turkmenistan. The concert program included classical music and works by Turkmen composers.
A meeting of business circles of the two countries in Ashgabat a month later was the logical continuation of the Vienna forum. It was held as part of the visit by Austrian companies in early October. Now, the sides are expected to implement the agreements reached and address the specific tasks of mutually beneficial cooperation, which, as time shows, can be perfectly handled by Turkmen entrepreneurs.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005