Silk Road business opportunities

Wednesday 18 June, 2008

I attended this event which was organized by Harry Lepinske of the Central Asian Productivity Research Center & Rizwan Kadir of the Pakistan Alumni Club of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business & co-sponsored by the commercial attache of the consulate general of Turkey & consul of Pakistan in Chicago. It featured the consuls general of many of the nations along the ancient Silk Road from China in the east to Turkey on the west, & Azerbaijan, India, Kazakhstan, & Pakistan in between. Here’s what I learned:

-The Silk Road perhaps should be renamed the Oil Pipeline Road because the economies of this region are dominated by energy & oil resources. Dealing with Afghanistan, Iran & the Russian federation are major issues for most of these countries.

-Azerbaijan had the fastest growing economy in the world @ 35% GDP growth & highest FDI per capita in the world.

-The US is the biggest investor ($18B) in mineral resources & geological exploration in Kazakhstan. Import tariffs are coming down as Kazakhstan is entering the WTO. Their industrial strategy is to reduce dependence on oil & focus on high technology.

-The Engineering Export Promotion Council of India, whose US office is located in the suburbs of Chicago, can provide more resources on Indian exports.

-Here are some resources which were provided for Pakistan: State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Finance, Board of Investment.

-Turkey is a pivotal East-West & North-South gateway which co-founded the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations which increases understanding of Islam throughout the world.  Here is the Turkish Counsel General’s presentation turkish-economy-for-the-silk-road.

-Contact Thelma Diaz of the Asian Development Bank for information on that organization.

Asad Hayuddin, trade counsel @ the Pakistan consulate provided a very informative overview of the silk road countries which were not present @ the event. This was particularly enlightening because he did his doctoral dissertation on the region & spoke about his research instead of as a government representative. Most notable was the 3 of the so-named BRIC nations are on the silk road & play different roles-China is becoming a major consumer while Russia is becoming a major supplier of energy to Europe.

This was a humbling conference for me because I like to think of myself as well-informed about world affairs, but learned how little I know about this part of the world. Regardless, a number of the region’s biggest companies are active in the silk road countries, for example Motorola, Sears, & Boeing in Pakistan, & all Chicago-based Fortune 500 companies in Turkey. I requested the presentations from each of the speakers, but have yet to receive them. We were informed the presentations would be up on the Pakistan Club’s website. It’s difficult to summarize a 1/2 day seminar in a few hundred words, so if you’d like more information, contact me.


One comment

  1. After going through the article i am well informed of world affairs and the importance of Silk road.

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