15 March, 2019

Central Asian Economic Forum held in Tashkent

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First Central Asian Economic Forum was held March 15, 2019, in Tashkent with the participation of the region’s Government representatives. The Kazakhstan delegation was headed by Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Zhenis Kassymbek. The first forum’s topic was “Central Asian Cooperation: Prospects for Mutually Beneficial Development.”

As the Zhenis Kassymbek noted in his speech, today the countries of the Central Asian region demonstrate great potential for cooperation in all areas based on the principles of good neighborliness and mutual interest. New dynamics of cooperation in the region are already bearing fruit. Commodity turnover has increased significantly, new air, road and rail links, checkpoints are opening, new infrastructure projects are being implemented.

The work is currently underway to expand the range of goods of mutual trade between countries. To date, about 45 commodity items have been identified that are in demand in the market of the Central Asian region and the delivery of which Kazakhstan plans to increase.

To enhance regional cooperation, the need to develop consolidated approaches to the economic development of the five countries and the joint implementation of major infrastructure projects was noted.

“There are great opportunities for investment cooperation in the mining industry, in the field of water and agriculture, engineering, energy, food industry, transport and communications. To improve the trade and investment cooperation of the Central Asian countries, we propose to fully use the potential of the existing railway lines connecting our countries. For more efficient and intensive cooperation, we should use the optimal tariff policy in the organization of railway transit traffic. I am sure that the simplification of administrative procedures in the implementation of transport between countries would allow to obtain a positive multiplicative effect for all our countries,” said Kassymbek.

The implementation of the Nurly Zhol program, including the completion of the Western Europe – Western China international transit road corridor, will create an effective East-West route through Kazakhstan. Technologically linked to other international projects, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line, will allow attracting potential cargo traffic from Asia and Europe, as well as open a direct transit route for export goods and goods from countries in the region.

A number of logistics centers have been established in Kazakhstan, such as the seaports of Aktau, Kuryk, Bautino, as well as the dry port of Khorgos-Eastern Gate. One of the measures to increase the economic and transport potential of the region is the formation and development of the Central Asian Transport and Transit Corridor "North-South," connecting it with all regions of Europe, Russia, the countries of the Persian Gulf and South Asia.

Taking into account the dynamically developing and capacious markets of Europe and Asia, Central Asian countries should maximize the potential of historically connected transport arteries through coordinated policies. In this regard, in the course of the forum Kazakhstan initiated the creation of the Interstate Advisory and Coordinating Body "Council for the Development of Transport and Transit Corridors of Central and South Asia" with the participation of representatives from all countries of Central and South Asia, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

As the forum participants noted, the development of interregional cooperation, simplification of customs and administrative procedures at the border, increase of transparency and efficiency of goods transit procedures, development of mutual tourism, introduction of the Silk Road visa can serve as a driver for expanding and deepening trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties. At the same time, for the development of direct contacts between economic entities of the countries of the region, it was proposed to consider the possibility of creating a Business Council of Central Asian countries with the participation of representatives of business communities, joint ventures in priority sectors of the economy, as well as regular industry-specific business forums.

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