As part of the U.S. government’s objective to promote economic expansion and stability in Afghanistan and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan) region, CLDP has been supporting the implementation of regional working groups on Customs, Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures, and Standards. CLDP is organizing the Fourth Meeting of the Central Asia-Afghanistan Regional Expert Level Working Group on Standards in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 20-22, 2017. The program will further the Group’s aim of creating a robust, goal-oriented agenda for sector based topics. As previously recommended and requested by the Group, the meeting will focus on topics related to the oil and gas and energy-efficiency and sustainability sectors. The delegates will identify a specific list of activities and development projects in those two sectors, as they previously agreed. CLDP, in turn, will provide experts who can address U.S. and international standards applicable to the activities and projects identified. The Group will also identify additional sectors pertinent to economic diversification within the participating countries on which the Group can focus in future workshops. Work and discussion within each sector will be structured so as to facilitate and strengthen intra-regional trade and connectivity as well as expand the region’s trade and economic links to regions and countries outside of Central Asia.
Conducting the meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan will allow participants an opportunity for a site visit to the Central Reference Lab of the Kazakhstan Scientific Center of Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases, a joint U.S.-Kazakhstan planning and construction which recently began operations. This laboratory, although dedicated to researching plague viruses and other infectious plant and animal diseases, will provide useful context for and contributions to the Standards Working Group’s efforts to promote the establishing and developing of similar standards-focused and conformity testing laboratories in the region, including by outlining the processes in place at the laboratory to incorporate continuing advances in testing techniques and relevant equipment.