Foreign Minister Kazakbayev, Ambassador Djumaliev, Ambassador Spratlen, Marc David Miller; thank you for inviting me to participate in today's Kyrgyz Investors Roundtable. It is an important component of our inaugural Annual Bilateral Consultation with Kyrgyzstan, which I look forward to chairing tomorrow with the Foreign Minister. Ladies and gentlemen, Kyrgyzstan is an important friend of the United States and we have been proud to support the remarkable democratic transition that has taken place in Kyrgyzstan since the fall of the Bakiev regime in April of last year.
The U.S. significantly raised our bilateral assistance in 2010 to over $140 million to support Kyrgyzstan as it undertook a peaceful transition to a Parliamentary democracy. We are also strong partners in helping the stabilization of Afghanistan. One important goal we share is to expand trade and investment opportunities between our two countries so I am very happy to welcome American business representatives.
There are numerous opportunities for the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan to collaborate to promote business. This event, along with the bilateral meetings taking place tomorrow, will help to highlight Kyrgyzstan's potential, as well as that of Central Asia as a region, as a bridge between East and West, North and South, as it was during the times of the historic Silk Road.
The private sector plays an important role in our efforts to achieve these goals through trade and investment. We make it our mission to do as much as we can to help U.S. companies expand their exports and business overseas and resolve any problems they might experience. The Northern Distribution Network has the potential to improve transportation infrastructure and stimulate trade routes connecting Central Asia to the growing markets of South Asia, which will have a lasting economic benefit. We also work with Central Asian countries to promote the policy reforms necessary for this infrastructure to yield increased trade, growth and job creation.
Our Embassy in Bishkek also is doing a lot to promote business efforts in Kyrgyzstan. They have hosted, for example, "Doing Business with the U.S.A." seminars for local businessmen in Kyrgyzstan. The American Chamber of Commerce in the Kyrgyz Republic is also an active forum for ideas to improve the business climate, as well as a network for American and local businesses operating in Kyrgyzstan.
As everyone in this room knows, increasing foreign investment hinges upon a strong commitment to transparency and rule of law from a host government, a well-educated workforce, and the relationships that businesses build with local private entities, including small and medium sized enterprises. This forum is a superb opportunity to allow Americans and Kyrgyz to network and develop mutually beneficial partnerships. Today's forum highlights the commitment by our two countries to promote stronger business ties and I look forward to a successful outcome.