New Silk Road Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Speech | 22 September 2011

Remarks by Haruhiko Kuroda, ADB President, at the German House, New York.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you very much for this opportunity.

The challenges highlighted under the New Silk Road Initiative must be addressed. This is critical not only for Afghanistan, but for the Central Asian subregion, and indeed the world.  Afghanistan is a means by which landlocked Central Asia can be integrated with markets in South Asia and beyond–an accomplishment that would have global benefits.

The suggested investments in the hydrocarbon, mineral and agriculture sectors have the potential to create jobs, raise incomes and give the people of Afghanistan hope for a brighter future. Regional cooperation and investments in infrastructure will ensure Afghanistan's position as a pivotal transit route.

ADB is already working in all these areas.  Over the past decade, we have extended more than $1 billion of assistance to Afghanistan, with a particular focus on infrastructure and regional cooperation. These are, in fact, at the heart of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, or CAREC program, which encompasses Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Central Asian countries, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Mongolia and Azerbaijan. The CAREC program works exclusively on transport, energy and trade facilitation. Through CAREC, we are investing in six major road and rail corridors, several of which are either in Afghanistan or Afghanistan bound. These include the Ring Road, the north south corridor, the Kabul to Jalalabad expressway, and the Hairatan to Mazar-e-Shariff railway. On energy, we are assisting the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline Project (or TAPI). We are financing regional transmission lines, including the one that now supplies electricity to Kabul from Uzbekistan 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And we are working on reforms, capacity building and cross border agreements that will make customs transit faster and cheaper.

In short, ADB is already fully aligned to the Silk Road Initiative.  We have a clear strategy, a business plan that matches priorities to finances, and an effective and efficient platform to do more. But to do more we need to increase our concessional funds. We are currently seeking replenishment of our concessional Asian Development Fund which is our only significant source of financing for Afghanistan's development. ADB's Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund allows development partners to join us in assisting Afghanistan. We look forward to working closely with you to spread hope and confidence in Afghanistan's future. I am confident that by working together, we can succeed in this critical endeavor.

Thank you.