MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda will begin an eight-day official mission to Central Asia on Saturday that will include visits to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Mr. Kuroda will meet with leaders and senior government officials in each country to discuss ADB's assistance programs and the important role of regional cooperation in the future development of Central Asia and the reduction of poverty in the region.
Mr. Kuroda will also visit a number of ADB projects. It will be his first mission to the region since taking office in February 2005.
"The rationale for cooperation among the countries of Central Asia is clear. Small populations, vast distances to markets, and land-locked geographies make cooperation a necessity for strengthening economies and improving standards of living," Mr. Kuroda said in Manila.
"With proximity to rapidly growing markets like the People's Republic of China, India, and Russia - all of which have huge needs for energy - and with greater transit access to the sea through Afghanistan, the region is well poised to reap the benefits of its strategic location. I look forward to discussing how the region can best capitalize on these opportunities."
Mr. Kuroda will deliver a keynote address at the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, on Sunday.
The conference will bring together Ministers and senior officials of the countries participating in ADB's Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program to discuss ways to expand cooperation and deepen economic ties.
Delegations from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan will participate. Senior representatives from a number of multilateral institutions including ADB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and World Bank will also take part.
ADB has offered increasing support to regional cooperation in Central Asia since it initiated the CAREC Program in 1997. The program's primary objective is to promote economic growth and raise living standards by encouraging economic cooperation among the participating countries. This goal is pursued through a focus on four priority areas: energy, trade facilitation, trade policy, and transport.
Between October 2000 and June 2005, ADB approved 11 loans totaling $275.1 million for seven CAREC-related projects, and leveraged cofinancing in support of these projects totaling $140.7 million. During this period, ADB also approved 23 technical assistance grants totaling $17.4 million.