In mid-April, during the official visit of the President of Kazakhstan to Tashkent, the authorized agencies of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed a Memorandum on the establishment of the International center for trade and economic cooperation “Central Asia”.
The head of the Department for international cooperation of the Ministry of national economy of Kazakhstan told Kazinform news agency on practical implementation of the idea, which will energize the international trade in the Central Asian region and relationships with major trade partners.
The large-scale work on creation of soft and hard infrastructure will be donefor the subsequent full-fledged activities of the ICTEC, which will be located on the Uzbek-Kazakh border. In particular, it is planned to create a state-of-the-art checkpoint, wholesale and retail trade facilities, transport and logistics hub.
As for the transport component, the Center will be in theneighborhood with the railway station Saryagash (about 30 km north of Tashkent), the international checkpoint “ZhibekZholy”, the highway Western Europe – Western China.
According to the Ministry of national economy of Kazakhstan, the ICTEC will take a shape in several stages:
- Preparatory phase – 2019
- Investment phase – 2020-2023, including the development of infrastructure
- Main phase – 2023.
The Centre is expected to be fully operational by 2025. It is assumed that the ICTEC, being located in the heart of the 70-million Central Asian market, will eventually entail emergence of a whole system of services in the transport and communication sphere, cross-border trade, tourism.
And more important that in the future the Center can become an important trading platform for other Central Asian neighbors – Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. Not coincidentally, the center is named “Central Asia”. Moreover, the ICTECclaims to turn into a key hub of the North-South transport and transit corridor connecting Central Asia with South Asia, Russia and Europe.
Many experts believe that closer economic and trade cooperation in Central Asia can help these countries to build a new model of economic development, which would have greater immunity to external shocks and allow their economies to break away from the raw products shackles (hydrocarbon, agricultural).
In this regard, the view of the director of the Tashkent-based Centre for economic research, Dr. SharofiddinNazarov, is noteworthy. In his article “Economics at the crossroads of civilizations”, published in the April edition of the journal “Economic review”, the expert highlighted the following steps, had to be taken for the sake of a multi-level integration of the Central Asian region:
- Elimination of trade barriers and the creation of a favorable legal regime for the strengthening of direct cooperation of the Central Asian countries with such Asian powers as China, Japan, South Korea, etc. In this context, the development of the Concept of investment cooperation of Asian countries is advisable.
- Modernization and development of transport infrastructure, harmonization of national transportframework, creation of powerful logistics systems for servicing trade flows between Europe and Asia. [By the way, Uzbekistan has already come up with similar initiative. President Mirziyoyev, speaking at the leaders’ round table on the sidelines of the 2nd BRI forum in Beijing, proposed to introduce through rates for rail transportation on the route: ports of the Yellow Sea (China) – Central Asia – Europe. The matter is uniform tariffs, applicable in all transit territories from the departure point to the destinationpoint.]
- Establishment of specialized companies that could promote Central Asian products in foreign markets. This will require expansion of regional production cooperation, creation international clusters in the manufacturing sector and the tourism industry, logistics centers for the joint promotion of export products to the markets of third countries.
- Setting up new forms of cooperation in the field of digital economy, introduction of advanced information and communication technologie, which will enable coordinated regulation of e-Commerce, customs and tax legislation, logistics, currency operations, as well as the joint use of e-money.
- Accelerating the development of the tourism industry and cooperation in this area: launch of new tourist routes to visit several Asian countries, sale of joint tourist products, the introduction of a single visa “Silk road”for tourists traveling through the Silk road countries.
- Putting on track of fundamentally new model of the agro-industrial complex. This can be achieved through the creation of joint agro-clusters, offering a full cycle of production — from growing to processing and supply of agricultural products to foreign markets, including such capacious as European one. The expert stressed the need for joint research in the field of improving the efficiency of agriculture through the use of innovative technologies, the development of the cluster system of production and processing of agricultural products.
- Study of the possibilities for the establishment of the Asian inter-state free economic zones, which will provide broad incentives for investors, implementation of joint projects based on public-private partnerships, mutual investments.
Full text of the article “Economics at the crossroads of civilizations”can be found here: http://review.uz/ru/news/policy/prezident-uzbekistana-vystupil-na-forume-odin-poyas-odin-put
/// nCa, 2 May 2019