MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Eight member countries of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program will discuss ways to deepen interaction and integrate more effectively with world markets in a meeting in Tajikistan early next month.

The 6th Ministerial Conference of CAREC will be held in Dushanbe from November 2 -3, 2007.

Over two days, it brings together ministers and senior officials from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; as well as senior representatives of CAREC's six partner multilateral institutions (MI), bilateral and other regional organizations.

Ministers at the conference are expected to consider two wide-ranging initiatives that would strengthen cooperation.

The first is the CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy, which would support the development of six strategic transport corridors crisscrossing the region, thereby improving access of these economies to each other and to global markets. Through trade facilitation, member countries will work to enhance the efficiency of trade, as well as transparency and awareness of rules, regulations and procedures.

"These efforts will improve the flow of people and goods around the region and across borders, providing a firm foundation for sustained growth," said Craig Steffensen, Head of ADB's CAREC Unit.

The second initiative is the establishment of the CAREC Institute, which will have two main purposes. The first is to enhance the capabilities of CAREC government officials to engage in regional cooperation processes and to plan and implement regional cooperation projects, while secondly, outlining new approaches to regional challenges based on international best practices, empirical research and policy analysis.

"Implementation of these strategies and initiatives will result in a substantial deepening of regional economic cooperation and progress toward our long-term vision of 'Good Neighbors, Good Partners and Good Prospects'," Mr. Steffensen said.

CAREC is an ADB-supported initiative to encourage economic cooperation in Central Asia. Initiated in 1997, the program to date has focused on regional initiatives in transport, trade facilitation, trade policy, and energy critical to improving the economic performance of the region and the livelihoods of all people - especially of the poor.

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