Regional Event and Webinar

Regional Cooperation in the time of COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Way Forward

Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program
Thursday, 17 September 2020, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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This high-level session brought together eleven Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) members to reflect on lessons from the past about the benefits of regional cooperation, particularly in times of global and regional crisis, and to deliberate on the future prospects of regional cooperation in light of the current global challenges and how to best position CAREC going forward.

Moderator Peter Frankopan set the discussion by highlighting the importance of learning lessons from history through close cooperation and collaboration, which helped unlock economic rewards and resulted in improvements in governance, healthcare outcomes, bureaucratic competence, and reinforcements of the rule of law. He also discussed how amidst the challenges, there are opportunities, and how CAREC countries can emerge as centers for trade and commerce, to achieve higher levels of economic growth and reduce poverty.

 The CAREC officials focused their discussion on the following:

  1. The pandemic has validated the benefits of and need for continued regional cooperation. The CAREC platform has been highly beneficial to the growth of the region, in building confidence and sharing knowledge on key issues and areas of regional relevance. The platform has become even more relevant now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when cooperation is needed to exchange lessons, identify urgent investment needs, and mobilize resources.
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for regional health cooperation. It will need to be a priority area for CAREC, and efforts of ADB and the CAREC Secretariat toward developing a regional strategy for health are strongly supported.
  3. Beyond the pandemic, cooperation will be needed to address climate change, build disaster resilience, and promote digital platforms that are crucial in the post COVID-19 period. There was consensus that continued cooperation is necessary to address new and emerging challenges including climate change, building disaster resilience, and digitalization.

The  participants appreciated CAREC’s initiative to bring together high-level officials to exchange views and facilitate policy coordination and knowledge sharing toward joint actions to build resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.


Werner E. LiepachDirector General, Central and West Asia Department, ADB

Mr. Liepach oversees the definition and execution of the departmental strategy and business plan, as well as the day-to-day management of operations of ADB's Central and West Asia Department. Mr. Liepach also supervises ADB’s engagement with the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation program, one of the largest regional cooperation programs in Asia. He holds a doctorate in economics/international finance from University of Konstanz, Germany and a master’s degree in management/business administration from the European School of Management Studies, France.

Welcome Remarks

Shixin ChenVice President (Operations 1), ADB

Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Chen headed the Department of International Economic and Financial Cooperation at the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). He held senior positions in the Ministry of Finance, overseeing areas of public finance and partnerships with multilateral development banks. From 2012 to 2014, he was a board director in the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility. Mr. Chen was World Bank’s executive eirector for the PRC from 2013 to 2016 and a board director for the PRC in the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank from 2016 to 2018. Mr. Chen holds a doctorate in economics from the Graduate School of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science, and a master’s degree in public policy management of the Mason Program of the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University.

Opening Remarks

Abdul Hadi ArghandiwalGovernor for Afghanistan, ADB; and Acting Minister of Finance, Afghanistan

Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal earned his BA in economics at the Kabul University and later took up a post with the Industrial Planning Department of the Ministry of Plan in Afghanistan. He emigrated to the USA in 1979, where he was appointed representative of Hizb-e-Islami Party. With the challenges in Afghanistan, he returned home and was appointed Hizb-e-Islami International Relations Committee coordinator. He later served as finance minister under President Burhanuddin Rabbani. From 2006 to 2008, he served as social and tribal affairs advisor to President Hamid Karzai and was appointed minister of economy in 2008. Currently, Mr. Arghandiwal is Afghanistan's acting minister of finance.


Noor AhmedSecretary, Economic Affairs Division, Pakistan

Noor Ahmed is a career civil servant with 27 years of diverse experience in public service at various positions. Before his appointment as secretary of the Economic Affairs Division in Pakistan, he served as special secretary in the Ministry of Finance. Significant previous posts include secretary of the federal tax ombudsman, additional secretary of external finance, and joint secretary of economy at the Ministry of Finance. He was responsible for managing the external account of the government and arranging fiscal resources to bridge the balance-of-payment gap, distribution of tax income among federal and provincial governments, financial regulations and key policy issues relating to public sector enterprises, energy and commodities sector subsidies, export competitiveness, and non-tax revenues. Mr. Ahmed has also served in the Prime Minister’s Office as joint secretary of economy. Mr. Ahmed holds a master’s degree in development studies from the Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands. He is extensively trained in economic policy, financial management, and public sector enterprise restructuring and rehabilitation.

Sultan AkhmatovDeputy Minister, Ministry of Economy, Kyrgyz Republic

In the 1990s, Mr. Akhmatov worked in the Kyrgyz Republic State Committee for Development Grants and Loans, then moved to the Ministry of Finance to monitor state investments during 2001-2005. Later, he was part of the City Transport Project Working Group before taking up the job of head of the State Aid Department under the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, where he became deputy minister in 2009. Since 2013 until 2019, he had posts of the director of inspection and standardization, counselor to the reformed Ministry of Economy, and head of the Strategic Aid Department. Mr. Akhmatov holds a diploma in aeronautics engineering, an MA in international law, and an MA in economics.

Ata ChapayevSenior Specialist of International Division, Public Finance and Economic Policy Department, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Turkmenistan

Eazaz Aslam DarAdditional Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Pakistan

Eazaz Aslam Dar joined the civil service in 1989 and belongs to the Pakistan Administrative Service. He is also a development practitioner, consultant, diplomat, and author. His work experience is rich and diverse, ranging from government to nonprofits and international development agencies. He has served on the boards of various organizations, besides serving in an advisory or consultative capacity for various public and international organizations. A business graduate, he has studied or attended intensive professional courses at varoius institutions such as Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, and the National School of Public Policy, all in Pakistan; the University of California in Los Angeles, Universities of Hawaii and Louisiana in the US, as well as with the US State Department, International Finance Corporation, UN, and the World Bank.

Nematullo HikmatullozodaAssistant to the President on Economic Policy, Executive Office of the President of Tajikistan

Nematullo Hikmatullozoda is currently the assistant to the President of Tajikistan on economic policy. Prior to this role, he was minister (2015-2020) and first deputy minister (2012-2015) of economic development and trade, and also senior adviser to the President of Tajikistan on economic policy at the Executive Office of the President. He received his economics degree from the Moscow Institute of National Economy. He finished his postgraduate studies in state and municipal administration at the Russian Academy of Civil Service.

Batkhuu IdeshDirector General , Development Financing Department, Ministry of Finance, Mongolia

Maksat KutlymyradovHead of International Division, Public Finance and Economic Policy Deptartment, Ministry of Finance and Economy, Turkmenistan

Weihua LiuDeputy Director General, Department of International Economics and Finance Cooperation, Ministry of Finance (MOF), People's Republic of China (PRC)

Mr. Liu is currently the deputy director general of the Department of International Economic and Financial Cooperation, at the PRC MOF. Simultaneously, he acts as executive director for the PRC at the International Fund for Agricultural Development. He has been engaged in international economic and financial cooperation for more than 20 years. He assumed the position of director in various divisions of the International Department, as well as the Department of International Economic and Financial Cooperation, MOF. He also worked as senior advisor to the executive director, PRC Executive Director's Office at the World Bank Group for several years.

Zhaslan MadiyevVice Minister of National Economy, Kazakhstan

Zhaslan Madiyev as appointed vice-minister of the national economy on 9 April 2019. Prior to this, he had been vice president for finance of NC Kazakhstan Kazakstan Temir Zholy JSC since 2017, and was appointed advisor to the Prime Minister in 2016. He served in various positions at the National Investment Corporation, National Bank of Kazakhstan, Development Bank of Kazakhstan, Samruk-Kazyna JSC, among others. He has a master of state management degree from Columbia University and an MBA from the Sloan Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in the United States.

Ekaterine MikabadzeFirst Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Georgia

Ekaterine Mikabadze has been in her current position since September 2019. Her previous roles include deputy minister of economy and sustainable development (2018), and acting head of the Macroeconomic Analysis and Fiscal Policy Planning Department at the Ministry of Finance (2016-2017). She also occupied a number of positions at the National Bank of Georgia (2009-2016) and National Statistics Office of Georgia (1995-2007). Ms. Mikabadze finished her bachelor of information science and management systems at the Technical University of Georgia and received her master's in economics at the Tokyo International University in Japan.

Rovshan NajafDeputy Minister of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Rovshan Najaf began his career in 2001 as a teaching assistant at the Department of International Economic Relations and Marketing at the Azerbaijan State University of Economics. In 2003-2007, he worked as a consultant and then senior consultant at the Investment Policy Division of the Investment and International Economic Cooperation Department, Ministry of Economic Development. In 2008-2009, he served as the head of the Investment Contracts Division at the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic. In 2009-2010, he was the head of the Foreign Economic Relations Department at the Ministry of Economic Development and assistant to the Minister of Economic Development. In 2010-2018, he served as the deputy executive director and then executive director of the Azerbaijan Investment Company OJSC. He was appointed head of the Innovation Development and E-government Affairs Department at the administration of the President of Azerbaijan by order of the President on 11 May 2018 and the chair of the Executive Board of the Financial Monitoring Service of Azerbaijan by order of the President on 28 August 2019. He completed his master's degree in economic policy management/international energy management and policy at Columbia University in the US.

Rovshen NuryagdyyevDeputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Turkmenistan

Rovshen Nuryagdyyev is deputy minister of finance and economy in Turkmenistan. Prior to his current role, Mr. Nuryagdyyev was deputy minister of finance (2013-2017), chair of Garagum International Joint Stock Bank (2012-2013), and held different positions at the Central Bank of Turkmenistan (2001-2012). He finished his degree in economics at the Karadeniz Technical University of Turkey.

Merdan PalivanovDeputy Chair, Central Bank, Turkmenistan

Samir SharifovGovernor for Azerbaijan, ADB; and Minister of Finance, Azerbaijan

Samir Shrifov has been minister of finance in Azerbaijan since 2006. Prior to this role, he was the chair of the Government Commission on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, dealing with the extraction of mineral resources (2003-2006). He was also the executive director of the State Oil Fund (2001-2006) and executive director of the National Bank of Azerbaijan (1995-2002). Mr. Sharifov received his MA in economics from the Department of International Economic Relations of the Faculty of International Relations and International Law, Kiev State University, Ukraine.

Nurlan ShokparbayevDirector of Department of Investment Policy, Kazahkstan

Nurlan Shokparbayev has been the director of the Department of Investment Policy for Kazahkstan since 2018. Prior to this role he was deputy director of the Department of Antimonopoly Authorities of the Eurasian Economic Union Member States (2017), as well as deputy director, Budget Investment and Public-Private Partnerships Development Department of the Ministry of National Economy (2014 - 2017). He was also involved as expert and head of the Investment Policy Division at the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning of Kazakhstan (2007-2014).

Saeed Ashraf SiddiqiJoint Secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Pakistan

Shukhrat VafaevDeputy Minister, Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade, Uzbekistan

Closing Remarks

James Patrick LynchDirector General, East Asia Department, ADB

James Lynch manages ADB’s sovereign operations in the People’s Republic of China and Mongolia across multiple sectors and thematic areas, including transport, energy, environment, climate change, health, education, and public finance. He is also responsible for ADB’s relations with Hong Kong, China; Republic of Korea; and Taipei,China. Prior to joining the East Asia Department, Mr. Lynch was deputy director general for the Pacific Department for 4 years. He was also with ADB’s Southeast Asia Department for 10 years where he served as director for regional cooperation, director for transport, and deputy country director for Thailand. Mr. Lynch joined ADB in 1997 as an urban development specialist and then worked as senior advisor in the Office of the President. Mr. Lynch began his career in the private sector doing consultancy work in real estate finance, urban planning, and economic development. Mr. Lynch holds an MBA and a master’s in city planning from the University of California at Berkeley in the US. He received a bachelor of science in urban studies from Cornell University, also in the US.


Peter FrankopanProfessor of Global History, Worcester College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Peter Frankopan is professor of global history at Oxford University, where he works on the history of exchange across the networks of the Silk Roads and on the past, present, and future of Russia, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the People's Republic of China. He advises many governments and multilateral organizations, including UNIDO, UNESCO, and the World Bank, for whom he was senior advisor and academic expert for a major project on transport corridors in South Asia. The winner of Italy’s Carical Prize and Germany’s Calliope Prize, Mr. Frankopan was named one of the World’s 50 Top Thinkers in 2019 by Prospect Magazine.