Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the CAREC Institute Intergovernmental Agreement Effectiveness Celebration on 7 September 2017 in Urumqi, People's Republic of China
Honorable Ministers; Director of the CAREC Institute Sanjaasuren Bayaraa; ladies and gentlemen:
I would like to thank the CAREC Institute for the invitation to this milestone event, celebrating the establishment of the Institute as an intergovernmental knowledge and research institution.
I am pleased to see such high-level participation at this event, including ministers and senior officials of all CAREC countries, the Chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and officials of the Urumqi Municipal Government.
I express my appreciation for China’s support of the CAREC Institute and for hosting it here in Urumqi. Urumqi is a city of tremendous historical significance. The city is a center for industrial and commercial activities for China and the broader CAREC region.
ADB’s support for the CAREC Program
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The idea of CAREC started with ADB providing a regional technical assistance in 1996 to foster regional economic cooperation in Central Asia. China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan were the first countries to form the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program in 1997.
CAREC’s membership has continued to expand. Tajikistan joined in 1998, Azerbaijan and Mongolia in 2003, Afghanistan in 2005, Pakistan and Turkmenistan in 2010, and Georgia in 2016.
CAREC today is a partnership of 11 countries and six multilateral development partners (ADB, World Bank, IMF, EBRD, IsDB, and UNDP). As of the end of 2016, almost $30 billion of CAREC-related investments have been made in the four priority areas of transport, energy, and trade facilitation and trade policy. ADB has provided $10.4 billion, and the rest has been contributed by governments and development partners.
CAREC is now preparing a new strategy leading to 2030. The strategy envisages scaling up CAREC’s mandate, including supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and COP21 Paris Agreement, economic and financial stability, tourism, agriculture and water resources, and health and education. The focus on CAREC’s four existing priority areas will be maintained.
CAREC will invite new development partners to join and contribute to the development of the region. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has already expressed its interest to join CAREC.
China is a key member of CAREC. CAREC shares a common vision with the Belt and Road Initiative of promoting regional connectivity. I believe that CAREC and the Belt and Road Initiative can cooperate on regional projects based on development impact, economic feasibility of projects and environmental and social safeguards.
Opportunities for the CAREC Institute
Let me now discuss some opportunities for the future work of the CAREC Institute.
We expect to see the Institute emerge as an internationally recognized and respected leader in research, knowledge, and capacity building in the region.
The Institute has so far focused its work on training and capacity building activities and workshops. Going forward, the Institute needs to pay more attention to research and analytical work and to develop an international standing as a frontline research institution.
In addition to the Institute’s current focus on infrastructure development, trade and economic corridors, and agriculture and natural resources, it should also provide research and capacity building support in other areas, such as tourism, education, health, and financial and economic stability.
The Institute should develop effective links with national thinktanks of member countries and help strengthen their capacity. The CAREC Institute’s Second CAREC Think Tank Development Forum is a good initiative in this direction. I am happy to see that over 25 regional think tanks are participating in the Forum.
The Cooperation Arrangement to be signed today between ADB and the CAREC Institute will further strengthen our partnership. The Arrangement provides a framework for sharing knowledge, undertaking joint workshops and seminars, organizing staff exchanges, and cofinancing research and capacity development.
Ladies and gentlemen:
I would like to extend my congratulations to the Institute for its successful transition to an intergovernmental organization. ADB is pleased to continue to support the Institute in becoming a center of research, knowledge, and capacity building in the CAREC region.