The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program is a partnership of 11 countries and development partners working together to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. It is guided by the overarching vision of “Good Neighbors, Good Partners, and Good Prospects.”
The program is a proactive facilitator of practical, results-based regional projects, and policy initiatives critical to sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity in the region. Since its inception in 2001, CAREC has mobilized more than $31.5 billion investments that have helped establish multimodal transportation networks, increased energy trade and security, facilitated free movement of people and freight, and laid the groundwork for economic corridor development.
CAREC 2030 provides the new long-term strategic framework for the program leading to 2030. It is anchored on a broader mission to connect people, policies and projects for shared and sustainable development, serving as the premier economic and social cooperation platform for the region.
As the reintegration of the Eurasian continent gathers speed, the CAREC countries are poised to reap substantial benefits. With the rapid economic expansion of the People’s Republic of China and Japan to the east, the Russian Federation to the north, and India and Pakistan to the south, there is a real and growing demand for improved connections between Europe and Asia. This momentum provides CAREC countries with an unprecedented opportunity to emerge as a center for trade and commerce, to achieve higher levels of economic growth, and to reduce poverty.
None of the region’s economies will be able to fully capture this opportunity in isolation. But all will benefit from working together, and with their neighbors, to build on their strengths for mutual progress.
Turning this potential into reality will require significant improvement in the region’s physical infrastructure such as roads, aviation and rail systems; in the way the region manages its shared resources to support efficient and rational use of energy and water; in progress toward harmonizing and modernizing its customs administrations, and streamlining the rules and procedures that govern countries’ international trade relationships; and in efforts to promote and strengthen people-to-people contacts across borders.
The six CAREC transport corridors are building a truly global future for the region, linking markets in northern People’s Republic of China to Azerbaijan in the Caucasus and further to Europe, and from Kazakhstan to Pakistan’s warm-water ports of Karachi, Gwadar, and beyond.
Seamless connectivity is moving people and their businesses along the CAREC corridors faster, speeding up passage, and reducing the costs of crossing borders.
CAREC corridors improve access to essential services and job opportunities – ultimately ensuring a better quality of life for all people of the CAREC region.
CAREC’s development partners facilitate financing for regional projects that benefit the entire CAREC region, and also ensure the quality of investments made by providing strategic and technical advice.
The CAREC Institute plays a key role in providing knowledge solutions and capacity building services in CAREC’s operational priorities to help uplift policy development, and facilitate sharing of experiences and best practices across member countries.
Since 2001, the Program has recorded impressive achievements in regional economic cooperation, particularly in the areas of transport, energy, trade, and economic corridors development. From 2001 to 2017, investments in member countries have amounted to more than $31.5 billion, covering 185 projects. Latest achievements per sector are listed below.
- About 809 kilometers (km) of expressways or national highways built, upgraded or improved in 2015 (93% of 7,800 km targeted for construction or improvement by 2020 achieved)
- 140 kilometers of railways in Uzbekistan improved by electrification during 2015
- 13 projects in other transport subsectors (2 ports, 2 logistics centers, 3 border crossing points, and 6 civil aviation projects) are being implemented
- Application of a geographic information system (GIS) to facilitate planning, monitoring, and managing of CAREC corridor-based transport facilities piloted starting with investment priority projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan
- Technical assistance initiated to facilitate knowledge sharing among CAREC countries
- Development of a regional road safety strategy for integration into CAREC road projects
- Joint customs control between the PRC and Mongolia pilot-tested
- Customs processes being automated in most CAREC countries
- Corridor performance measurement and monitoring instituted–and trade facilitation indicators developed–to assess and evaluate corridor efficiency
- 21-member CAREC Federation of Carrier and Forwarder Associations (CFCFA) active throughout the region
- $584 million mobilized by CAREC since 2002 for 15 projects to support growth in trade
- Average border crossing time for road shortened to 9.3 hours in 2015, a 6% improvement year-on-year. Likewise, average border crossing time for railway shortened to 27%, a 16% improvement year-on-year. These improvements were due to shorter customs processes at border crossing points (BCPs)
- Average cost of crossing a BCP by road reduced by 16%, attributed to collaboration between customs administrations in Mongolia and the People’s Republic of China. On the other hand, average cost of crossing by rail increased by 40% due to higher carriage transfer fees
- Increased coordination and collaboration between the Trade Policy Coordinating Committee and development partners to improve trade openness in CAREC member countries
- Six of nine policy action items completed by majority of member countries
- Existing sanitary and phytosanitary and technical barriers to trade measures in place across member countries, and existing bottlenecks hindering expansion of trade in services, assessed through a stocktaking exercise
- 1,150 km of transmission lines installed or upgraded in 2014
- Generation capacity increased to 600 megawatts (MW)
- 520MW in rehabilitated generation capacity
- 4,200 new substations installed; 5,200 substations upgraded
- Technical support activities assessing methodological and technical barriers facing power trade in Central Asia implemented