15th Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation

15th Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation

CAREC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) was held in Islamabad on 25th October 2016, chaired by Ms. Anjum Assad Amin Additional Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics, and Privatization, being the CAREC National Focal Point (NFP) for Pakistan. The main objective of this meeting was to review the progress made in the priority areas, including new initiatives, towards CAREC 2020 goals of increased trade.

The meeting was attended by (i)  Mr. Sean O’ Sullivan Director General, Central and West Asia Department (CWRD), ADB (ii) National Focal Point for CAREC from Afghanistan (iii) Azerbaijan (iv) the People’s Republic of China (v) Kazakhstan (vi) Kyrgyz Republic (vii)Mongolia (viii) Tajikistan  (ix)Turkmenistan (x) Uzbekistan along with the Senior Officials of  partner Multilateral Institutions (MI), Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank (WB); representatives from the Government of Georgia; representatives from CAREC Institute, Department for International Development, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale  Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), European Union, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BmZ), Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan International Cooperation Agency, U.S. Department of State, United States Agency for International Development, and World Trade Organization.

In the opening remarks, National Focal Point (NFP) for Pakistan Ms. Anjum Assad Amin, highlighted the significant progress made by CAREC members in implementing priority projects under the four areas of transport, energy, trade facilitation, and trade policy. The role of the Asian Development Bank for establishing a Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute (CI) for promoting regional economic cooperation of member countries was highly appreciated. She also highlighted that CAREC corridors besides linking region’s key economic hubs to each other also connect the region to other Eurasian markets which will result in externalities for significant and measurable improvements in handling intraregional, Interregional and transit trade.

She highlighted the importance given to the Energy Sector projects which are one of the top priorities of Pakistan. She was pleased on the successful conduct of the Energy Sector Coordinating Committee meeting and Energy Investment Forum which was organized jointly by ADB and Pakistan Private Power and Infrastructure Board tow days ago which brought together senior government officials in the power sector, private investors contractors, suppliers and international financial institutions.

SOM reviewed and supported the findings and recommendations of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of CAREC 2020. Has recommended the formulation of a new long-term CAREC strategy for the region and recognize that the new strategy CAREC 2025, must explore selective expansion of the CAREC agenda to enhance relevance of the program while taking into account national strategies of member countries and priorities of development partners. After long negotiations, the member countries have finalized the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) Establishing the CAREC Institute.

The SOM was pleased with the progress made in the Almaty-Bishkek Corridor Initiative (ABCI), the pilot for CAREC economic corridor development and endorsed the investment framework and its vision of the Almaty-Bishkek Corridor as a dynamic and diversified region anchored on export-oriented, knowledge and skill intensive services, modernized agriculture-cum-agri-business and tourism as new growth drivers. Georgia was also welcome for its interest in joining the CAREC.

CAREC Senior Officials agreed to recommend the following for endorsement by the 15th Ministerial Conference to be held on 26th October, 2016: (i) CAREC Road Safety Strategy 2017-2030; (ii) CAREC Railway Strategy 2017-2030; (iii) the CAREC 2020 Mid-Term Review; (iv) The ABCI Investment Framework; (v) Launching of the Regional Food Safety Initiative; and (vi) Georgia’s membership in CAREC.

In the meeting, the SOM Chair presented the report of the SOM to CAREC officials, who considered the report and gave their suggestions and recommendations. The Multilateral Institution (IM) Partners and Bilateral Donor agencies also gave their brief statements in response to the report of the SOM chair. Finally, the draft joint Ministerial Statement was considered and endorsed by all CAREC officials.

The session concluded with the closing remarks of National Focal Point of Pakistan (SOM chair), appreciating the active participation of all the CAREC officials. In her remarks, she expressed gratitude on behalf of Government of Pakistan to the CAREC Officials and Asian Development Bank for organizing a remarkable conference in Islamabad.