More funds for CAREC roads programme

By Helen Wright16 June 2011

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$ 55 million loan to finance improvements to a 60 km stretch of road connecting the Kyrgyz Republic with China. The project is part of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programme.

The Bishkek to Torugart highway runs through the heart of the Kyrgyz Republic, forming part of CAREC Corridor 1, which links Europe to China and East Asia. The route traverses from the border with the Russian Federation to China via Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Trade corridors

The CAREC programme covers a network of six trade corridors accross 10 countries in Central Asia - Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The ADB's latest tranche of funding comes on top of the over US$ 2 billion that it has invested in the project since 2008.

In September, 2010, the ADB loaned US$ 800 million towards the development of CAREC Corridor 2, which involved the reconstruction of about 790 km of roads in Mangystau Oblast, Kazakhstan's main oil- and mineral-producing region on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.

And in April, last year, the ADB loaned US$ 600 million for the reconstruction of over 220 km of the A380 highway that forms part of CAREC Corridor 2. This came after the ADB approved a US$ 700 million loan supporting the development of CAREC Corridor 1 in November, 2008.

Meanwhile the World Bank lent CAREC US$ 2.13 billion in June, 2009, to help upgrade a 1062 km stretch of Corridor 1.

Ten year strategy

Altogether, the CAREC member countries have benefitted from over US$ 15 billion investments in energy, trade and transport since 1997. This has included the construction and improvement of around 3600 km of roads, as well as the construction of 2000 km of railway track.

On 8 June, senior officials from CAREC met in Baku, Azerbaijan, to discuss a strategic framework for the next decade of development under the scheme, known as CAREC 2020.

The members discussed a five-year plan of priority regional investments in transport, trade facilitation, and energy.

Juan Miranda, director general of ADB's Central and West Asia department said, "The CAREC countries are closer now than they have ever been, and CAREC 2020 will speed the process by which Central Asia reassumes its position as a pivotal crossroad for international trade and commerce."

CAREC 2020 will be formally adopted in November this year. In addition to the ADB, CAREC receives funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank.

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