MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a technical assistance grant for a feasibility study for the upgrading and modernization of border crossing points in Central Asia.

The $2 million grant will be financed by the Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund under the Regional Cooperation and Integration Financing Partnership Facility. The grant will help identify basic infrastructure investment needs at the borders of six priority road corridors in Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries.

Aside from upgrading the facilities, the grant will also help identify how to integrate information systems to be used by relevant government agencies to review and process documents prior to the arrival of goods at the border.

A typical 500-kilometer journey by a 20-ton truck in land-locked Central Asia currently involves around 24 hours waiting time at each border. Of these, more than 18 hours are spent waiting for border crossing formalities. The delays are mostly due to poor physical infrastructure, the lack of inspection equipment and outdated information and communication technology. In addition, there are limited logistics facilities at many crossing points.

"An efficient movement of goods and peoples in CAREC will help the countries participate more fully in the international production chain for trade-led economic growth," said Ying Qian, ADB's Lead Professional for Regional Cooperation. "This will integrate CAREC countries further into the global economy and lead to sustained economic growth and improved living standards regionally."

The grant will also finance economic and financial analyses of the proposed projects, assessments on national governance standards, project impact on poverty reduction, and the best financing mechanism for the projects. ADB has estimated that the investment requirements for the upgrading of the cross-border facilities and technology could reach $200 million, of which $150 million could be financed by ADB.

Founded in 1997, CAREC is a partnership of 10 countries - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - and six multilateral institutions: ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank. ADB has served as the CAREC Secretariat since 2001.

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