The International Monetary Fund has published a new forecast for the growth of the world economy and individual geographic regions. Central Asia on the general background looks more than promising.
The optimism of the experts of the Fund regarding the Central Asian region is largely due to a change in the mood of investors and large market players. Central Asia, finally, successfully gets rid of the status of a divided and unpredictable region. If earlier investors, for the most part, willingly went only to Kazakhstan, now they are establishing connections with other republics. Not without the help of official Astana. Kazakhstan still accounts for 70% of all investments in Central Asia, but the republic’s authorities are not greedy and willingly advertise their partners to their partners. With or without Kazakhstan the Central Asian countries establish contacts and sign contracts with companies in Europe and the Persian Gulf.
Kazakhstan itself acts as an investor for the region. Astana is sponsoring aid programs and development strategies for Central Asian countries. Although it would seem, why should Kazakhstan increase the competitiveness of its neighbors? The motives are obvious: the economic well-being of neighboring countries, they believe in Kazakhstan, guarantees a stable and predictable situation at the borders, the correct image of the entire region in the eyes of the global business community and, finally, successful trading with a short leverage.
The potential of domestic trade in Central Asia is huge. Given the range of export goods of the whole five, we can safely say that if desired, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan could provide each other with all that is most necessary: food, energy, textiles, equipment. The region is completely self-sufficient in this respect.
Speaking about the integration initiatives of Kazakhstan, it is important to understand that it was they who became the driver who helped establish cooperation between the countries and change the image of the region.
Now Kazakhstan, using solid prestige in the international arena, is trying to establish economic contacts of the entire region in its new unified capacity with other players on the continent: Russia, China and the European Union. Cooperation with them will allow Central Asia to become one of the largest transit hubs in the world, through which a significant part of the global cargo traffic can flow along a single route without delays and checks.
Also with the submission of Kazakhstan, the countries of Central Asia are planning to create their own alternative to the Schengen zone and introduce a single visa – Silk Visa. This idea should significantly increase the income from tourism for the entire region. So far, only Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are ready to sign an agreement on the introduction of such a visa practice. Astana and Tashkent are negotiating with the rest of the Central Asian representatives. Tourism, given the diversity of landscapes, the rich history and unique identity of the countries of the region, has every chance of becoming one of the main income items of the economies of the Central Asian five.
In general, the prospects for Central Asia are very bright. And the IMF forecasts look quite reasonable. For their implementation, it is important that the countries of the region support integration and rely on relations with their neighbors in foreign policy. Kazakhstan has already proved by its example how profitable and promising it is. And now, behind the republic, as behind a powerful locomotive, the rest of the countries of Central Asia should be pulled. /// nCa, 30 October 2018