BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - Ministers and senior representatives of development agencies met in Baku to discuss support for the new 10-year strategy for the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program.

Established in 2001, CAREC brings together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It promotes regional projects in energy, transport, and trade facilitation.

Six multilateral institutions (MIs) support the work of CAREC: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and World Bank.

"ADB has allocated $4.7 billion over the next three years to support CAREC 2020's goals of trade expansion and improved competitiveness," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda. "We stand ready to assist in accelerating the development of physical infrastructure connectivity, the development of economic corridors, and the improvement of the knowledge base needed to support CAREC's priorities."

President Kuroda made the announcement at the Development Partners' Forum on the third day of the 10th CAREC Ministerial Conference. The forum was chaired by ADB Vice President Xiaoyu Zhao.

MIs at the forum echoed their support for the work of CAREC and some also offered substantial financial assistance over the next decade. Senior representatives of bilateral agencies from France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States also attended the forum and supported CAREC 2020.

To date, member governments, the ADB, and other MIs have approved over 100 CAREC-related projects worth about $17 billion. These projects include six land transport corridors that cover 3,600 kilometers of roads and 2,000 kilometers of railway. They traverse the CAREC region north-south and east-west, linking Europe, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.

The three-day conference wrapped up with a ministerial retreat where participants discussed how CAREC countries could individually and collectively contribute to a prosperous Asia by mid-century.

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