CAREC Ministers Agree on $23 Billion Action Plan to Boost Central Asia Links

WUHAN, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA – Ministers of the 10 Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program nations have agreed on a plan to implement more than $23 billion in new regional transport infrastructure projects, together with energy and trade initiatives, aimed at creating seamless connectivity and greater prosperity in the region.

“Regional cooperation is essential to promote inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth,” Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said in a keynote address to the 11th CAREC Ministerial Conference. “Poor connectivity arising from inadequate transport and communications infrastructure can impede trade expansion and investment attraction.”

The Wuhan Action Plan, unveiled at the ministers’ meeting today, prioritizes 68 transport projects that will contribute to six major corridors linking the ports in eastern People’s Republic of China (PRC) with the Caucasus and beyond, and connecting northern Kazakhstan to the trading hubs in Karachi and Gwadar in Pakistan. This will be complemented by efforts to improve border and customs services to allow people and goods to move easily between nations. In addition, CAREC nations aim to raise funds to build and improve energy assets.

Representatives from CAREC multilateral institution partners – ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank – and bilateral donor agencies from France, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States – pledged support for the Wuhan Action Plan.

The Ministers, representing Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the PRC, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, also agreed to establish a base for the CAREC Institute in the region by 2014 to support strategic projects through analytical work, training, and knowledge management.

Since 2001, the CAREC region has seen over $19 billion in investments in just over 120 projects, including almost 4,000 kilometers of roads, 3,200 kilometers of railways, and more than 2,300 kilometers of power transmission lines.

CAREC ministers met in Baku, Azerbaijan in November 2011 where they endorsed the CAREC 2020 framework for the region for the subsequent decade. They will next meet in late 2013 in Kazakhstan.

ADB has acted as the CAREC Secretariat since the grouping was formed in 2001.