MANILA, PHILIPPINES (3 May 2018) — Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC[1]) member countries can capitalize on new regional and international development dynamics, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to strengthen regional infrastructure, boost trade, and reduce poverty, according to participants at a high-level Asian Development Bank (ADB) seminar.

“CAREC and BRI uphold common visions of improving connectivity for shared prosperity,” said ADB Vice-President Mr. Wencai Zhang. “The overlapping geographies of CAREC and BRI provide further impetus for close coordination to jointly build resilient and sustainable regional infrastructure, strengthen trade links, and create jobs and greater economic opportunities for all our countries.”

Participants agreed that CAREC member countries can benefit from the emerging enabling environment for economic cooperation in the region. Participants shared their insights on how stronger collaboration among regional and international cooperation initiatives can support this process. They agreed to continue the momentum of discussion and identify concrete regional investment projects to deepen economic cooperation in the region.

The session, which was organized on the sidelines of ADB’s 51st Annual Meeting in Manila, Philippines, included an opening presentation from Deputy Director General of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Ministry of Finance Mr. Liu Weihua. Other participants included Uzbekistan Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Sukhrob R. Kholmuradov, Georgia Minister of Finance Mr. Mamuka Bakhtadze, and Azerbaijan Minister of Finance Mr. Samir Sharifov,  as well as international development partners.

During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the PRC and six multilateral development banks (MDBs) including ADB. The agreement highlighted the MDBs’ preparedness to cooperate with BRI, in the context of each MDB’s respective country and subregional partnership strategies and programs.

Following this, at the 16th CAREC Ministerial Conference in October 2017, ministers from the 11 member countries signed the “Dushanbe Declaration,” which commits these countries to building stronger ties between CAREC and BRI. CAREC seeks to cooperate closely with BRI to promote economic growth, prosperity, and elimination of poverty in the region. 

Over the past two decades, the CAREC program has grown from 6 projects worth $247 million in 2001 to 185 projects worth more than $31.5 billion as of December 2017. It has helped establish multimodal transportation networks; increased energy trade and security; broken down trade barriers; facilitated the free movement of people and freight; and laid the groundwork for the development of economic corridors.

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 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in cofinancing.

[1] The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program has a membership of 11 countries: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People’s Republic of China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

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