Remarks on the 8th CAREC Ministerial Conference

Speech | 3 November 2009

Remarks by Makoto Ojiro, Country Director of ADB's Tajikistan Resident Mission, at the press conference on the outcomes of the 8th CAREC Ministerial Conference, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Dear Mr. Buriev, Mr. Mukhidinov, representatives of leading mass media in Tajikistan, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon to you all and many thanks for joining us. I am delighted to see familiar and new faces today, let me welcome all of you to ADB Tajikistan Resident Mission.

As it was already announced, we have invited you today for a press conference to talk about regional cooperation in Central Asia and in particular to share the outcomes of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program that took place in the second half of October this year in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Regional cooperation and integration is one of the key strategic agendas of the Asian Development Bank. And CAREC Program guides our operations in this area. CAREC was launched in 1997. Spanning nearly 4,000 kilometers across Central Asia, it is as an alliance of eight participating countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) and six multilateral institutions - the Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank. The central goal of the CAREC Program is development through cooperation, with the objectives of increased economic growth and poverty reduction, expanded and diversified trade, and strengthened capacity for regional cooperation and integration. CAREC operates in partnership with other key regional cooperation programs and institutions, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community. It is a powerful platform to marshal financial resources.

Tajikistan is a very important partner of the CAREC Program, and ADB greatly appreciates Tajikistan's active participation in and strong support for the CAREC Program. To date, Tajikistan has received over $200 million of ADB's assistance under the CAREC Program for rehabilitation of Dushanbe-Kyrgyz border road project, regional power project with Afghanistan, customs modernization project, and Nurek switchyard reconstruction project. This is for Tajikistan only, but, if you look at total commitments in all CAREC countries, it reaches about $3.9 billion this year. This is about twice as much as it was last year. So, you can see a significant increase in the financial commitments made by the CAREC financing partners.

We are honoured to have our government delegation to the Ulaanbaatar Ministerial Conference here with us. The Tajikistan government delegation was headed by Matlubhon Davlatov, State Adviser to the President on Economic Policy, who is our Honourable Governor, and also comprised Negmatjon Buriev, Senior Adviser to the President on Economic Policy and CAREC National Focal Point for Tajikistan, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry Pulot Muhidinov, and staff from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

Let me now briefly mention some of the results from the recent CAREC Ministerial Conference. As you all know, the unprecedented global financial crisis has posed a great challenge to the economies of CAREC members. The impact of the crisis varied by country. A sharp decline in remittances in several countries and a drop in export revenues are still affecting many CAREC economies. But despite the difficult economic environment, the work of CAREC has moved ahead. Let me inform you that we had a special guest in the conference, i.e., Dr. Supachai, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) who spoke about the importance of the regional cooperation in tackling the impact of the economic crisis.

The Ministerial Conference endorsed major action plans to advance cooperation in transport, trade and energy sectors. We particularly appreciate that we are now seeing the CAREC agenda moving forward into the implementation phase. Some of the major CAREC transport corridors will soon be opened, which is part of the 6 major corridors, comprising 24,000 km at the cost of $26 billion. Significant progress is observed in the energy sector. The Ministers have endorsed the Energy Action Plan Framework setting out the work program in support of the Energy Sector Strategy. The Meeting has also endorsed the CAREC Results Framework to measure the results achieved on the ground. The Results Framework will have simple and measurable indicators for each of the priority sectors to assess development effectiveness of the regional activities and track progress and achievements.

The Ministerial Conference was Chaired by Mr. Bayartsogt Sangajav, Minister of Finance, Mongolia, and Co-Chaired by Mr. Xiaoyu Zhao, ADB Vice President. ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda delivered a keynote address during the Conference, and he also launched a flagship publication on Transport and Trade Logistics Development Strategies for all CAREC countries, and that, of course, includes Tajikistan. This publication talks about the issues and recommendations on this important topic. They are all available online.

The Asian Development Bank is strongly committed to continued support in developing and deepening regional cooperation and integration under the CAREC program in close collaboration with other partners.

And before I conclude, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you with an upcoming Constitution Day. I wish you and your family peace, love, happiness, and prosperity.

Now, I would like to give the floor to Mr. Buriev. After that, we will be happy to take your questions.

Thank you.