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Operationalizing Economic Corridors in Central Asia: A Case Study of the Almaty-Bishkek Corridor

Publication | December 2014
Operationalizing Economic Corridors in Central Asia: A Case Study of the Almaty-Bishkek Corridor

An economic corridor linking the cities of Almaty and Bishkek has the potential to promote trade and generate economic growth in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the whole of Central Asia.

This report builds on the long-term strategic framework of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program to promote economic growth in Central Asia through the development of economic corridors, i.e., initiatives that use physical infrastructure to catalyze and spatially organize economic activities generating productivity and growth. Its two objectives are to

  • customize the economic corridor development concept to the unique context of the region, and
  • identify specific areas where economic corridor development may be piloted.

The study provides a detailed though preliminary exploration of a specific segment of CAREC Corridor 1—the Almaty–Bishkek Corridor—to assess its potential as a pilot for economic corridor development, and outlines steps to be taken over the next 12 months to develop this corridor.

Conclusions

Under recently approved plans of the Government of Kazakhstan, regional development within the country will be focused on increased size and economic density of urban clusters through agglomeration, combined with good links between urban clusters and smaller cities and rural areas. This ambitious agenda, if realized, will contribute to significant growth of Almaty’s economy. Although the information available for Bishkek’s development plans is less specific on investments, it indicates a strategic thrust toward enhancing the business climate, greater transparency, and improved governance to attract private investments into the city.

Based on existing economic potential and links between the two cities, expected substantial reduction in economic distance between the two economic centers and the potential increased size of both cities in the medium term, the report concludes that the Almaty–Bishkek Corridor is a suitable option to pilot economic corridor development under the CAREC Program.

Contents 

  • Foreword
  • Summary
  • Introduction
  • CAREC Corridor Development: Three Tracks
  • Transit Trade along CAREC Corridor 1
  • The Almaty–Bishkek Corridor: An Exploration
  • Conclusions
  • References