CAREC Program Helping Bolster Regional Ties in Central Asia: ADB

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN - Expanding transport, energy and trade links through regional cooperation to boost growth among the members of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) community was highlighted at a seminar at ADB's 43rd Annual Meeting in Tashkent.

CAREC is helping Central Asian countries move toward a larger vision of a truly integrated and globally connected Asia, seamlessly interlinked and working in common purpose. This work will support the transformation of the region into an international trade and commerce hub.

The CAREC Program brings together eight regional member countries—Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—to develop effective regional transport and trade connectivity through cooperation and joint investment initiatives. Tackling critical common issues together, the CAREC partners are set to mark a decade of successful operations in 2011 with close to $15 billion in investments that contribute to sustainable economic growth and improved living standards in the region.

The ADB has served as CAREC Secretariat since 2000 and as a supporting multilateral institution (MI) since 1997. Other MI partners include the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme.

The seminar held in Tashkent – “Building Seamless Connections for New Prosperity - The CAREC Vision" – also featured a presentation by Uzbekistan's First Deputy Minister of Finance Ravshan Gulyamov, who showcased two examples of his country's strong commitment to the regional grouping.

He cited a CAREC project to run electricity transmission lines from Uzbekistan's border to Kabul which was completed last year and now ensures a regular supply of power to the Afghan capital; and a railway link currently under construction which will soon connect Afghanistan to Uzbekistan's expansive rail network. ADB continues to support CAREC corridor initiatives in Uzbekistan, recently approving $600 million for road and rail infrastructure improvement, and $350 million in support of energy security and efficiency.

Other speakers in the seminar included Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization; Martin Marmy, Secretary General, International Road Transport Union; Martin Spechler, Professor, Department of Economics, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and Klaus Gerhaeusser, Director General of ADB’s East Asia Regional Department.