ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA – Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao concluded a 2-day visit to Mongolia today, during which he met with Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed, Minister of Finance Bolor Bayarbaatar, and other senior officials, and attended the 14th Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Ministerial Conference.

At the Ministerial Conference, CAREC Ministers exchanged views on the developments affecting the economic performance of the group’s 10 member states: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.  

Mr. Nakao said in his keynote address at the Ministerial Conference that in the current difficult global economic environment, CAREC countries should further strengthen regional cooperation and integration efforts. “Enhancing the subregion’s connectivity, promoting trade and investment across borders, and improving access to external markets will help improve the prospects of the subregion as a whole,” he said.

ADB functions as the Secretariat of the CAREC Program, which promotes regional cooperation in transport, energy, trade facilitation, trade policy, and other key sectors of mutual interest. Cumulatively, the CAREC Program has mobilized $28.3 billion of investments since it was set up in 2001, of which ADB accounts for more than $10 billion. In its project lineup for this year, ADB is planning to invest almost $1 billion to improve CAREC road corridors and enhance border services among CAREC countries. To provide knowledge support to implementing action plans in the four priority areas, ADB is supporting the CAREC Institute, which launched its physical base in March 2015 in Urumqi, PRC. 

Besides conducting regional projects, Mr. Nakao noted, ADB has provided or is planning substantial assistance to help individual countries adjust to new economic circumstances and institute policy reforms. Most notably a $1 billion loan to Kazakhstan through the counter-cyclical support facility was approved in August, and a $150 million loan for social welfare support program in Mongolia is being prepared for approval in the near future.

In a joint statement, CAREC Ministers noted progress made in the four priority sectors. On transport and energy, they commended investment projects in road and railway construction to develop transport corridors as well as new support for clean energy and energy efficiency technologies. In trade facilitation there has been progress on linking customs cooperation with transport infrastructure. On trade policy, they noted to date, five CAREC countries have acceded to WTO, with Kazakhstan expected to accede by end of this year. 

Ministers welcomed an initiative to strengthen cooperation in sanitary and phytosanitary measures to complement customs reforms. They also resolved to take collective action to boost road safety in their countries through better road and vehicle design, enforcement of traffic laws, and accident and emergency facilities. 

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.

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