ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA - Ministers from across Central Asia are gathering in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, today for a major annual conference aimed at building transport and energy infrastructure, simplifying border and trade arrangements, and fostering closer cooperation among countries in the region.
Hosted by the Government of Mongolia, the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program brings together ministers from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The CAREC Program was initiated in 1997 with the goal of development through cooperation leading to accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has served as CAREC Secretariat since 2000.
Ministers at the 14-16 October conference will consider the endorsement of two key documents: The CAREC Energy Action Plan Framework and the CAREC Program Results Framework. The energy action plan focuses on opportunities for regional integration through power development, particularly investments in Central Asia for regional and export opportunities. The results framework will help track the progress of CAREC's investments and policy programs.
Also high on the agenda will be the release of initial findings of the Corridors Performance Measurement and Monitoring Program, an initiative that has studied the main causes of delays and costs along the six CAREC priority transport corridors that stretch across the region.
Speaking on the eve of the Ulaanbaatar conference, Juan Miranda, Director General of ADB's Central and West Asia Department, extolled the successes of CAREC since its inception.
"We are seeing greater energy security, efficiency and trade, and landlocked countries are working together more closely to improve connectivity and create jobs," Mr. Miranda said.
Mr. Miranda said the energy transmission line bringing electricity from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, illustrates the tangible benefits of CAREC cooperation.
"In bringing electricity to Kabul, CAREC has shown the humane and transformative effects of regional cooperation and collaboration. The city now has a 24-hour power supply, compared with two hours a day just a few months ago," he said.