Turkmenistan To Coordinate Central Asian CAREC Transit Project

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Ashgabat takes on increasing responsibility in multilateral INSTC and Middle Corridor development projects

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis  

Representatives of the State Customs Service of Turkmenistan met this week with representatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program on the CAREC Advanced Transit System and Information Common Exchange (CATS/ICE) project, according to the State Customs Service of Turkmenistan.

During the meeting, the parties discussed further practical steps for implementation, reviewed the text of the Memorandum of Understanding on CATS/ICE, and also announced the appointment of the State Customs Service of Turkmenistan as the coordinating body for this project.

CAREC was established in 1997 by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to encourage economic cooperation among countries in Central Asia and nearby parts of Transcaucasia and South Asia. Members include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It has six multilateral institutional partners, being the Asian Development Bank, which also serves as the CAREC Secretariat, along with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Monetary Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank. It is divided into six routes covering much of Eurasia.

The CAREC Network

CATS/ICE is an Electronic System for controlling the movement of transit goods through the CAREC member States (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), modeled on the New Computerized Transit System (NCTS) of the EU.

The aim of the project is to increase the security of the supply chain in the CAREC region, as well as to reduce the overall costs of transit trade.

CAREC’s involvement and Turkmenistan’s appointment as the coordinating body is a boost to Ashgabat’s prestige and involvement in the INSTC and Middle Transport Corridor between China and Europe via Central Asia and is an important development step in releasing the effective usage of these routes. It has been involved for example in highway development in China’s Western Xinjiang Province as well as highway development in Pakistan and electricity generation for transport in Tajikistan among other projects.

The EBRD stated late last year that significant transport infrastructure investment was needed across much of Central Asia & the Middle Corridor. Turkmenistan’s project coordination will assist with this. Ashgabat has been taking its regional connectivity relations and involvement very seriously since it officially joined the INSTC as a partner last autumn and the country establishes itself as a transit hub between Central Asia, China to the West, and Europe to the East.

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