ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN (Wednesday, 14 November 2018) — Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Mr. Takehiko Nakao and the President of Turkmenistan Mr. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov met today to discuss ways ADB will further strengthen its partnership with Turkmenistan. Mr. Nakao also met Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers (Economy and Finance) Mr. Gochmyrat Myradov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers (Transport and Communications) Mr. Mammetkhan Chakyyev, and Chairman of the Central Bank of Turkmenistan, who is also the Governor for ADB, Mr. Merdan Annadurdyyev.
During his meeting with President Berdimuhamedov, Mr. Nakao expressed support for Turkmenistan's development priorities in energy, transport, and the financial sector. He also congratulated the government on its leadership as chair of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program this year. Turkmenistan will host the 17th CAREC Ministerial Conference in Ashgabat on Thursday.
President Berdimuhamedov appreciated ADB’s support for the Turkmenistan–Uzbekistan–Tajikistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan (TUTAP) Power Interconnection Project and the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which enhance connectivity and cooperation in the region. He highlighted the importance of the recently agreed Caspian Sea convention among the five countries (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan) that surround the sea and invited ADB to consider supporting gas pipeline projects that may arise from the agreement. He also appreciated ADB’s possible support for the East-West core railway corridor, building on the success of the ADB-financed North-South Railway Project.
Mr. Nakao said that Turkmenistan has made good progress in implementing its National Program of Social and Economic Development 2011–2030 to help improve living standards for its people and shift to a more diversified growth model based on sustainable development and greater regional cooperation. ADB is planning to provide support of up to $200 million to develop the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “The initial $50 million of support is planned to be considered by ADB’s Board of Directors in early 2019," said Mr. Nakao.
During the meeting, Mr. Nakao also commented on Turkmenistan’s solid macroeconomic performance. A recent rise in oil and gas prices, which have been low since 2014, should contribute to higher budget revenues for the government and support economic growth. Despite challenges in the global economy, the country's economic growth rate averaged over 6% in the past 3 years and, for 2018, 6.2% growth rate is expected.
ADB’s development partnership with Turkmenistan began in 2000. Since then, ADB has supported the country to diversify its economy and increase its regional connectivity. Last year, ADB approved its first 5-year Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Turkmenistan for 2017–2021. The CPS supports the national development priorities of promoting energy trade, strengthening transport connectivity, and increasing SME’s access to finance.
Last week, ADB approved a $500 million assistance to strengthen Turkmenistan’s transmission infrastructure to improve the reliability of its power supply and promote electricity trade in the region. ADB is also supporting cooperation among customs authorities of Turkmenistan and other CAREC countries—and has provided technical assistance to support the country’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures for food safety and agricultural trade.
ADB’s first ever project assistance to Turkmenistan provided $125 million for the North-South Railway Project, which was implemented between 2011–2017. The 288-kilometers of railway between Chilmammet and Buzhun was instrumental in establishing a transport link to move freight from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan, Iran, the Persian Gulf countries, the Russian Federation, and South Asia, and also led to the economic development of local areas adjacent to the route.
ADB continues to support the TAPI gas pipeline project. When completed, the 800-kilometer natural gas pipeline is expected to become a bridge to stability and prosperity in the region and a strong source of revenue for Turkmenistan through the export of up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. ADB has provided over $4 million in technical assistance for various studies and cooperation agreements for the project. Turkmenistan and Afghanistan governments have requested ADB financing for the first phase of the project.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.