A colleague and I wrote remarks for the the ADB CAREC Senior Officials Meeting in November 2011.  He delivered our remarks while I sureptitiously filmed on my Dell Streak 5. I am an enthusiast of the ADB’s CAREC program as it has been reasonably effective at getting Central Asian countries to discuss economic cooperation issues: trade facilitation and policy, transport and power sector development. Approximately $2o billion in infrastructure investments will have been made within the cadre of CAREC by 2020.

Efforts at regional cooperation and economic integration move slowly in Central Asia. Some countries appear openly hostile to these concepts with political decisions taking precedence over those certain to increase the wealth of citizens of CAREC member countries. The Regional Trade Liberalization and Customs Project that I managed for USAID until the project’s close in September 2011 worked with public organizations like customs services, ministries of trade and associations of freight forwarders and logistics service provides. We created a lot of research on trade facilitation and trade policy matters. Hopefully, these considerable intellectual output of the project will continue to be available online. I collaborated closely with CAREC and other donors like the World Bank and GiZ in the implementation of this project, as well as with enthusiastic Central Asians in the public organizations.   There are many angles of pushing regional economic cooperation in Central Asia that are possible such as integrated border management, facilitating supplier/customer relationships between Central Asian firms, pre-customs data exchange and implementation of  transit cargo regimes between countries. Single Window systems are necessary to decrease the cost and time for moving goods across borders.

When I get to the office on Monday, I will continue working on new projects that collaborate with Central Asian businesses to help them network and find solutions to export-related problems. These include finding and booking lower cost transport services, finding trade financing, developing joint ventures with CAR businesses. These efforts will result in new customer/supplier relationships among Central Asian firms, stronger trade support organizations, joint ventures and new investment.

The competitiveness of partner firms will improve.