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TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (14 July 2023) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has appointed Kanokpan Lao-Araya as its new Country Director for Uzbekistan.

Ms. Lao-Araya, who started the role today, will lead ADB’s operations in Uzbekistan and supervise the preparation and implementation of the bank’s new country partnership strategy for 2023–2028. ADB will strengthen its support for the country’s transition toward an inclusive and market-driven economy, private sector development, green transformation, reduced economic and social disparities, and greater regional cooperation and integration.  

“I am pleased to lead ADB’s ongoing efforts to support Uzbekistan’s reform agenda,” said Ms. Lao-Araya. “Through investments, knowledge and private sector operations, we will continue to help Uzbekistan develop its human capital, strengthen its resilience to external shocks, and support its transition to a green economy.”

Ms. Lao-Araya has more than 25 years’ experience working on development and economic issues across the Asia and the Pacific including Central Asia. She joined ADB in 2001 from the Thai Ministry of Finance and has since held a series of increasingly senior positions at the bank. She was most recently Country Director for the Kyrgyz Republic where she led the bank’s operations, including its support for the COVID-19 pandemic which had a devastating impact on the Kyrgyz economy and the health of its people.

Ms. Lao-Araya, a national of Thailand, holds doctorate and master’s degrees in economics from Indiana University (Bloomington) in the United States, and a bachelor's degree in economics from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Ms. Lao-Araya replaces Cindy Malvicini who was appointed as Deputy Director General of ADB’s South Asia Department. 

ADB’s support for Uzbekistan in 2022 focused on reforms for the country’s transition toward an inclusive and market-driven economy, which is closely aligned with Uzbekistan’s national development strategy. In 2022, ADB committed five new public sector projects and programs amounting to over $1 billion to Uzbekistan. This included a support to food security, social protection for vulnerable groups, and jobs, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Uzbekistan joined ADB in 1995. To date, ADB has committed 240 public sector loans, grants, and technical assistance totaling $11.5 billion to Uzbekistan. Regional cooperation and integration initiatives under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program remain an integral part of ADB operations in Uzbekistan.  

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 68 members—49 from the region.

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