A Closer Look: My Time at EXPO-2017


Last week, I was honored to participate in the Eurasian Week Forum, an annual event aimed at the development of the Eurasian Economic Union’s (EAEU) economy, investment and export potential, during my visit to Astana, Kazakhstan for EXPO-2017. The Forum served as an effective platform for developing business-to-business contacts, discussing tools and conditions for business development in the EAEU, and elaborating the strategy of EAEU economic development in the context of global challenges.

I was pleased to participate in two important panel discussions relevant to ITIC programs and our overall mission:

  • New approaches and technologies in customs regulation. Tools for facilitation of Foreign Trade procedures
  • Higher EAEU countries’ investment attractiveness as a business development basis

In reflecting on how far Kazakhstan has come since we started our work there in 1993, I was pleased to note that two EAEU member states (Kazakhstan and Belarus) were in the top 10 for the most significant and positive reforms across three or more of the areas measured in the 2017 World Bank/PwC Doing Business report.


The EAEU’s progress in just three short years is astounding. Several leaders have recently discussed a road map for the “complete elimination of economically significant restrictions in mutual trade,” and EAEU Chairman Tigran Sargsyan has called for the “advancement of digital transformation.” These are important milestones for continuing progress and attracting investment across the EAEU, and Kazakhstan’s vision and guidelines can help set the tone for adoption by each member state.


In addition to the professional dialogue at the Forum, I had the opportunity to visit EXPO-2017, which was both impressive and educational. The venue developed by Kazakhstan in just two short years was an impressive display of architecture and application of efficient energy. From visiting the giant Kazakhstan pavilion house in the massive sphere, I learned more about future energy, and from visiting many other national pavilions, I learned about how new energy sources are being utilized. But perhaps my most positive impression was from meeting so many bright, friendly and intelligent young people from Kazakhstan and many other countries working at EXPO-2017. These youth are the source of the world’s future energy!

I’ve been privileged to witness a remarkable transformation of Russia and Kazakhstan since my first visits in 1991. The Russian and Kazakh people are enjoying the fruits of their reforms and living much better lives today.


Daniel A. Witt is President of the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC), based in Washington, DC.