BISHKEK, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao met with President Almazbek Atambaev and Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev during his two-day visit to the Kyrgyz Republic to discuss ADB’s support for the government’s development agenda, and the need to continue the focus on poverty reduction and inclusive growth. He also gave a keynote address at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).
As the country marks its 20-year partnership with ADB, Mr. Nakao commended the economic development and poverty reduction during this period and appreciated the successful transition to democratic systems and return to growth path in recent years. “To build on this momentum, the government needs to promote reforms to improve the climate for private sector investment. It should also deliver equal access to economic opportunities, a quality education, as well as better infrastructure,” he said.
The country recorded strong gross domestic product growth of 10.5% in 2013 as gold production rebounded. Recent robust gains in manufacturing and services reflected growing private sector investments. Overall, GDP is expected to grow much slower at less than 4% in 2014 due to an economic slowdown in Russia, the country’s major source of remittances and key trade partner.
ADB is supporting the government by helping reform legal and regulatory frameworks to improve the business environment, expand availability of affordable finance, and increase access to electricity. ADB operations are aimed at creating jobs and reducing gaps between regions in basic infrastructure and services.
One of the important electricity projects which is being prepared by ADB is a $110-million support for phase 2 of the Toktogul hydropower plant rehabilitation project. The plant produces about 40% of the Kyrgyz Republic’s power supply. This will also facilitate the expansion of electricity trading in the region.
The Kyrgyz Republic joined ADB in 1994. As of September 2014, ADB has provided over $1.3 billion in loans and grants to the government.
At the CAREC Ministerial Conference, whose theme this year is Linking Connectivity with Economic Transformation, Mr. Nakao appreciated the CAREC Program for supporting the development of the countries in the region, through building cross-border regional infrastructure in transport and energy, promoting open trade and investment regimes, and facilitating regional dialogue on knowledge and innovation. Cumulatively, the CAREC Program has mobilized more than $24 billion of investments since 2001, of which ADB provided $9 billion.
Mr. Nakao welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for CAREC’s knowledge work between the cities of Almaty and Bishkek to pilot an economic corridor, and in explicitly including the service sector in its scope. The Almaty-Bishkek Corridor Initiative—the first example of city-level cooperation in the CAREC region—will help coordinate urban development planning between the two cities, and generate detailed studies to identify infrastructure requirements, policies, and market opportunities to better integrate their economies.
He also highlighted the role the upcoming CAREC Institute can play in generating knowledge for regional cooperation and addressing the region’s development challenges.
The CAREC Program promotes regional cooperation in transport, energy, trade facilitation, and other key sectors of mutual interest to the 10 member countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Program is supported by ADB as the secretariat, and five other multilateral institutions.
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 2013, ADB assistance totaled $21.0 billion, including cofinancing of $6.6 billion.