Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) member countries can capitalize on new regional development dynamics, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In this exciting time of the opening up of Central Asia, collaboration between the CAREC Program and the BRI presents an excellent opportunity for regional economic cooperation and strengthen partnerships among countries, development institutions and other regional cooperation frameworks.
In his opening remarks, VP Zhang noted that the BRI and CAREC uphold common goals of improving connectivity, promoting unimpeded trade, creating a sound investment climate, and strengthening financial cooperation between countries. CAREC countries, situated as a land bridge connecting East Asia and Europe, lie at the heart of Silk Road Economic Belt, and therefore stand to tremendously benefit from a synergistic approach between CAREC and the BRI.
In his special address, Mr. Liu Weihua emphasized the important role of multilateral development banks (MDBs) in BRI implementation and called for MDBs’ support to the proposed Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance to catalyze resources, improve risk-sharing mechanisms, and facilitate co-financing activities.
Senior officials from seven CAREC member countries (Azerbaijan, PRC, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan), and representatives from twelve development institutions (ADB, AIIB, EBRD, EC, ILO, IMF, IsDB, NDB, SAARC, UNDP, UNIDO, and World Bank) participated in this event. CAREC countries and development partners unanimously see the necessity of strengthening collaboration with the BRI given the overlapping geographies and shared goals. Such collaboration provides further impetus to build resilient and sustainable regional infrastructure, strengthen trade links, and create jobs and greater economic opportunities. Stronger CAREC-BRI collaboration can also reinforce the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Moving forward, VP Zhang suggested that interaction on CAREC-BRI collaboration should not be a one-off event. Instead, there needs to be regular and ongoing dialogue to undertake strategic initiatives to realize the true potential of this collaboration. Participants agreed to continue the momentum of discussion and identify concrete and bankable regional investment projects to deepen economic cooperation in the region.