MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $55 million loan to finance improvements to a key highway connecting the Kyrgyz Republic with the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The 60-km stretch to be reconstructed is part of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program. The program covers an expansive network of six trade corridors that crisscross the land-locked countries of Central Asia.
"The Bishkek to Torugart highway runs straight through the heart of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the Kyrgyz Republic sits at the heart of Central Asia. This is a 'must-do' project," said Juan Miranda, Director General of ADB's Central and West Asia Department.
Mr. Miranda said the section to be financed will improve CAREC Corridor 1, thereby halving travel times and boosting trade in one of the poorest areas of the country. "When every new stretch of the CAREC highway is completed, the region will be closer and closer to realizing its potential as a major international crossroads for trade and commerce," he said.
"The goods people eat, buy and trade will move quicker from source to destination, crossing borders more efficiently and reaching consumers at a better price - and with better quality and selection - than ever before," said Mr. Miranda. "This is part of what CAREC is all about."
Founded in 1997, CAREC is made up of 10 countries - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the PRC, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - and six multilateral institutions, including the ADB. ADB has served as the CAREC Secretariat since 2001.
CAREC helps its member countries - mostly vast and land-locked with small, scattered populations - build the trade, transport and energy links that are necessary to promote economic development. It provides the finance and ideas that are accelerating economic growth and improving living standards across Central Asia.
Since its inception, the regional group can boast more than $15 billion in CAREC-associated investments in Central Asia's energy, trade and transportation sectors, accomplishments that include some 3,600 km of road building and improvements; almost 2,000 km of railway track; upgrading of ports and priority border crossings; and improvements in energy security, efficiency and distribution throughout the region.