South Korea’s outlook in Central Asia

Paula Pop

The Korean presence in the Central Asian region started in the nineteenth  century when as a consequence of poor harvest and famine on the Korean peninsula, thousands of Koreans fled to work and earn a better living to Russia. Later, during the Soviet time, this minority ended up being deported by Stalin to more isolated places like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, so that a potential collaboration between them and the Japanese who were already occupying Manchuria, could be avoided. Nowadays there are around 500,000 ethical Koreans living in the region, the majority of them in Uzbekistan (approx. 176,900), Russia (approx. 176,411) and Kazakhstan (approx. 105,000).

Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea (Korea) and the newly formed states were established in 1992, when Korean cultural centers and associations were founded as well. Nevertheless, this ties have gone down dramatically after the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The relations were further recovered and strengthened when President Roh Moo-Hyun was in power (2003-2008), period in which he organized two visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in 2004 and 2005 while launching as well a ‘Comprehensive Central Asia Initiative’. This new program has a variety of purposes such as: advancing cooperation, developing industries, businesses and diplomatic relations with the Eurasian continent, insuring energy security and sharing the Korean development experiences to enable more effective economic growth in the Central Asian states.

Moreover, since 2007, a Korea-Central Asia Cooperation Forum has been organised aiming to enhance understanding among the two regions and strengthen cooperation. This forum is considered to be the first multilateral dialogue and high level consultative mechanism between Korea and the 5 Stan-countries. Since its creation, the Forum has been a high level consultative mechanism that consolidated trust among private and public sector representatives and at diplomatic level alike.

The presidency of Lee Myung-Bak (2008-2013) developed these efforts through the ‘New Asia Initiative’(NAI) which also included a focus on Central Asia. As part of this program, the Korean president signed several agreements in 2009 with both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and agreed on multiple cooperative partnerships, especially in the energy field (in Uzbekistan- joint exploration oil and in Kazakhstan-joint development of the Jambil maritime oil block and power plant development), economic cooperation and trade.

Additionally, former President Park Geun-hye (2013-2017), outlined in 2013 her own plan with respect to the Central Asian relations in the so-called program ‘Eurasian Initiative’ with the motto ‘one continent, creative continent and peaceful continent’, advocating for a single and unified system of transport, energy, trade networks and cooperation in a wide spectrum of areas like science, technology, culture etc. In 2014, the president also paid a six days visit to Central Asia to promote her vision. This included that the ancient ‘Silk Road’ (ideas like to build the Silk Road Express from Busan to Europe) should be revived to connect energy supplies, transportation and electricity grids between Europe and Asia. For this plan to work,  the geographical connection through Central Asia plays a key role. Countries like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, with whom Korea already signed a memorandum of understanding on railroad cooperation, are seen as anchors and ‘hubs’ in the new Silk Road initiative. However, the sustainability of this initiative remains under question after its main advocate, president Park, got impeached and was followed in 2017 by Moon Jae In, who has not made yet any strategic declarations regarding South Korea’s plans for the Central Asian region.

However, in November 2017, the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, made a diplomatic visit to Seoul, at the invitation of President Moon, while attending the South-Korea-Uzbekistan business forum. President Mirziyoyev proposed the establishment of a Korean business centre in Uzbekistan. Nonetheless, the relations between the two nations are quite strong and since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two, 14 meetings have already been organised between the heads of states and in addition, Uzbekistan’s share in Central Asian trade with South Korea sums up to 50 per cent, making Uzbekistan Korea’s biggest trade partner in Central Asia. Moreover, South Korea represents one of the top five countries of imports for Uzbekistan. Thus far, there are in Uzbekistan 75 Korean companies and 460 enterprises founded with Korean capital and a total volume of investment  that exceeds  USD 7 billion.

In addition, South Korea has been involved in several projects in Uzbekistan by offering support and technological assistance to the likes of the free industrial zones Navoi and Angren and the intercontinental logistic centre at Navoi and Tashkent airports. Furthermore, in 2015 the construction of Ustyurt Gas Chemical Complex was completed, which comprises five plants of gas and oil exploitation and energy generation, being funded 50 per cent by Korean share-holding and companies. Approximately 85 per cent  of the total production is planned for exports. Uz-Kor Gas Chemical is the joint-venture company initiated by companies from both countries, missioned to develop, finance construct and exploit the natural resources in the Ustyurt region.

Further on, another joint-venture called LG CNS Uzbekistan was launched in 2015 between the LG CNS and Uzbek public owned companies, with the aim of fostering local ICT industry development and participating in government-led projects in the IT field, like creation of data-based systems, digital platform for e-government, digital tax system, smart card infrastructure for public transport and billing systems etc.

Moreover, in September 2018, the two countries are planning to launch a textile Techno Park in Tashkent, aiming to transfer Korean innovation and pursue joint research work in the field of textiles and development of alternative renewable sources. The initiative is funded by the Korean government through its resources for development cooperation (approx. USD 15 million).

Apart from this, between 2018 and 2021, companies from the two countries will collaborate in three projects aiming to modernize electrical networks and equipment in Bukhara, Samarkand and Juzzakh regions, having a total cost of USD1.84 billion.

However, from an economic perspective, Kazakhstan is considered to be the most important partner for Koreans in Central Asia, having approximately 200 Korean companies residing within its borders and having signed double as many economic agreements with South Korea than Uzbekistan did.

Since they established diplomatic relations, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has already made five visits to South Korea and each of the previous three Korean presidents have also made state visits to Kazakhstan.

In April 2018, a Kazakh delegation met in Seoul with major representatives of Korean businesses and agreed to increase investment, mining and building projects, and boost trade turnover. At the end of 2017, it is estimated that there were around 400 joint economic projects between the two countries. In 2011 the two countries agreed to collaborate in a joint thermal power-plant project-Balkhash worth USD 9 million, the biggest mutual program until that time, with Samsung C&T and KEPCO holding jointly a 75 per cent stake in the project;  the rest of 25 per cent was held by the Kazakh Government. However, in 2016, Samsung C&T dropped the contract due to low oil prices and a delay in regulatory approvals which damaged the business rationale.

In 2011, South Korea signed an agreement for the creation of a joint-venture for supporting the realisation of second stage of constructions in the gas chemical complex in Atyrau with LG Chem as strategic partner. Another project in the oil exploitation field with Korean involvement is related to the offshore Zhambyl oil block, which was signed in 2008. Further cooperation between the two countries is intended in the field of geological exploration, health care (public private partnerships), road construction (Turkish-Korean concession) etc.

With this in mind, the relations between South Korea and Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan remain quite marginal compared to the ones with the other two Central Asian countries.

One of the main opportunities from which South Korea is aiming to benefit in its relations with the Central Asian countries lies in its increasing need of energy and the fact that, being given the situation in the Middle East, it becomes more important for them to diversify their sources of energy. Therefore, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan seem to be good alternatives. The Korean energy mix is highly dependent on the nuclear one, with the need of high amounts of uranium which as well. Uranium is also to be found in high abundance in Uzbekistan, with whom Korea already signed multiple pacts to secure imports of thousands of tons of it.

Moreover, the strength of such a collaboration lies mainly in its threefold perspective of diplomacy, aid and trade and the fact that their economic relationship and interests mainly compliment themselves (energy needs on one side and technology upgrading on the other) and create an essential win-win situation for both regions. Additionally, the fact that, as opposed to China US, Japan or Russia, South Korea has no particular ‘past political baggage’ of meddling in the political development of other countries, creates a very positive image of the country among the Central Asian nations. On a similar note, the fact that the country is only a middle power and thus presents not so many geopolitical or ‘neo-colonial’ ambitions and no national sovereignty threats as opposed to other nations involved in Central Asia (Russia, China), offers them an even stronger advantage and places it as a counter-balance political/economic partner to the classic powers in the region.

Especially when countries like the US are being more reluctant in making business in such unstable and uncertain environments, South Korea’s activities in the region are regarded in a very positive way, being awarded similar strategic goals, interests and alliances between countries.

Also, the threats regarding the relation between the two regions still exist, especially when there is high economic volatility in the Central Asian region, underdeveloped civil society, weak democratic institutions, and corruption that could all endanger the effectiveness of South Korea’s energy diplomacy in the region.

Other identified weaknesses could be the fact that the level of Korean investments in these countries is still much lower than the Chinese and Japanese ones which might as well affect their negotiation and influential power, especially when all three countries are equally eager in securing their own energy requirements. Further on, the geographical distance between the region, the poor physical infrastructure, as well as the though and strict border controls in Central Asia and the reluctance of relaxing the requirements are some other drawbacks of the Korean-Central Asian relations.

Further on, the fact that Seoul is determined to collaborate with regimes that are considered to be authoritarian and consequently turn a blind eye to the weak rule of law, democracy and human rights abuses happening in the region, might as well attract harsh criticism from other democratic countries toward their activities in the region.

A framework for Black Sea Collaboration: BSEC

Alexandra Colcer

Since ancient times, the Black Sea has been considered a geopolitical hotspot due to its strategic position connecting Europe and Asia. Moreover, the basin is also linked to the Azov Sea through the Kerch Strait, the Marmara Sea through the Bosphorus and the Aegean Sea and therefore the Mediterranean Sea through the Dardanelles Strait.

In 1992, riveran states – Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, the Russian Federation, Ukraine along with countries from the Black Sea wider region interested in increasing regional cooperation set the stepping stone for a new multilateral initiative known as  ”The Black Sea Economic Cooperation” (BSEC).

BSEC is the oldest, most representative regional economic intergovernmental organization in the wider Black Sea region, as its members are spread on both continents and encompass territories of the Black Sea littoral states, the Balkans and the Caucasus, thus including an area of approximately 20 million square kilometres and 330 million people.

The organization’s cooperation areas include:

  • transport and communications, including communications infrastructure;
  • informatics;
  • exchange of economic and commercial information, including statistics;
  • standardization and certification of products;
  • energy;
  • mining and processing of mineral raw materials;
  • tourism;
  • agriculture and agro-industries;
  • veterinary and sanitary protection;
  • health care and pharmaceutics;
  • science and technology.


In the mid to late 1980s, countries from the Black Sea wider region – Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and Serbia – at Turkey’s initiative, decided to start a regular dialogue which turned into  the launch of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation (BSEC) in 1992 in Istanbul. In 1995, during a meeting in Bucharest, foreign ministers adopted an “Action Plan” to strengthen co-operation mechanisms. Also, in 2004, Serbia joined the organization.

BSEC appeared as a unique and promising model of multilateral political and economic initiative. In order to promote interaction and harmony among its members, as well as to ensure peace, stability and prosperity, encouraging friendly relations and good neighbourly relations in the region, the BSEC now has the role of a forum for cooperation in a wide range of areas between the 12 Member States.

BSEC structure and decision-making procedures

The Council of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs is BSEC’s central decision-making organ. It meets every six months to define aspects regarding the functioning of the organisation and it may grant BSEC observer status (at the request of international states  or organizations) or partner for dialogue with the BSEC (at the request of some states, international organizations and institutions).

The Parliamentary Assembly (PABSEC) established in 1993, follows the model of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and includes a Standing Committee, a Bureau, three specialised Committees (on economic, trade, technological, environmental affairs; political and legal affairs; social and cultural affairs) and an International Secretariat.

The Permanent International Secretariat, based in Istanbul, is headed by a Secretary General and provides administrative support to the decision-making structures of the organisation.

The Business Council consists of experts and representatives of Chambers of Commerce of the Member States and promotes co-operation between public and private sectors.

The Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB) administers funding for regional co-operation projects. The Bank funds projects also thanks to the support of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The Interim Presidency (PIE) is ensured by the Member States in alphabetical order for a period of six months.

BSEC’s partners include- the countries and institutions that have observer status (Austria, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Poland, USA, Slovakia, Tunisia, France, Germany, Black Sea Commission, European Commission, Black Sea International Club, Croatia, Belarus), countries and non-governmental organizations that are partners for sectoral dialogue (including Hungary, Iran, Slovenia, Japan, the Danube Commission, the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe, the Union of Road Transport Associations in the BSEC Region, the Black Sea Universities Network, etc.), as well as international organizations (UN, World Bank, World Trade Organization, etc.).

Projects – Plans of Action

BSEC includes 18 areas of cooperation, each with a corresponding action plan, which includes main objectives, expected results and, some of them, large scale projects.

As a short overview of BSEC’s activity, the following main plans are currently being implemented:

  • on Agriculture and Agro-Industry – targets improving sustainable rural productivity and enhancing the international competitiveness, improving the availability of financial services and credits to farmers, enhancing dialogue on bio-technology methods.
  • on Banking and Finance – to enhance the closer cooperation in the field of banking and finance and establish close relationships between the supervisory authorities of financial systems of BSEC Member States.
  • on Combating Crime – the plan focuses on countering terrorism, human trafficking in the Black Sea Region, countering transnational crime.
  • on Culture – the plan includes the creation of a BSEC Cultural Platform, as well as the organization of a BSEC Film Festival and participation in film festivals, production of TV specials (60 minutes.) with the collaboration among the national TV stations.
  • on Customs matters – it includes activities such as: promoting multilateral transit arrangements, automation of transit systems such as common transit system and TIR system stimulating and supporting capacity building activities among the customs administrations.
  • on Emergency Assistance – plans focus on developing and usinge of modern technologies to predict natural and man-made disasters through means of space monitoring, drafting of seismic risk maps, building up relations with regional initiatives involved into the infrastructure protection and risks evaluation in the Black Sea Region, including terrorist threats.
  • on Education – the plan focuses on promoting mobility of academic staff and students among the BSEC Member States, promoting scientific research for Sustainable Development, supporting public-private partnership in the field of education.
  • on Energy – the cooperation focuses on exchanging information on legislation in energy sector and national programs and development and improvement of energy infrastructure in the Black Sea region.
  • on Environmental protection– the plan includes the implementation of a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for the BSEC Region.
  • on Healthcare and pharmaceutics – the joint plan focuses on creating a Epidemiological Surveillance and Response network, implementing the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Sanitary Protection of the Territories of the Member States of the Organization, exploring possible steps for promoting BSEC-EU cooperation.
  • on Institutional Renewal and Good Governance – it follows three main directions: Strengthening the Working Group as a Discussion Platform, re-enforcing the Working Group for Support of Multilateral Cooperation, enhancing the Working Group as a Common Information Exchange Channel.
  • on Science and Technology – cooperation focuses on human resources, capacity building, research infrastructure and innovation as areas of action, identifying innovative ways for combining allocated public and private funds, and facilitating the access to other available financial resources.
  • on SMEs – the objects include supporting regional development and sustainable growth, contributing to job creation, income generation, supporting research and technology commercialization, building an environment of knowledge, science, and entrepreneurial activity, increasing cross-country collaboration.
  • on Tourism – BSEC aims to promote the region as one of the leading tourism destinations of the world, ensuring sustainable tourism development by adopting green growth strategies that will enable economic expansion while preserving natural and cultural heritage.
  • on Trade and Economic Development – the plan supports intra-regional trade and investment.
  • on Transport – it focuses on integration of the national transport networks into the regional ones and furthermore into the Trans European Network and Euro-Asian Transport Linkages.

      Moreover, the plans of action for ”Exchange statistical data and economic information” and ”Information & Communication Technologies”  are programmed to be adopted in the next meetings.

Example of projects planned by BSEC:

  • An Electronic Marketplace to Support Pairs of Less Widely Studied European Languages (2007)
  • Market potential for Hydrogen production from Hydrogen Sulphide in Black Sea and industrial waters (2008)
  • Operational Framework of an advanced Telematics based Institute, for promotion of services on sustainable development in ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management)
  • Technology Transfer Network for BSEC Region (2012)
  • New cardiovascular planning and diagnostic tool for coronary arteries in BSEC countries using computational simulation (2008)
  • Experimental Deployment of an Integrated Grid and Cloud Enabled Environment in the BSEC Countries on the Base of g-Eclipse (on-going project)
  • Identification of barriers to trade that small and medium enterprises of BSEC member countries face in intra-BSEC trade, as well as, proposals for country-specific policy recommendations for the elimination of these barriers
  • Development of Distant Professional Learning Software for the International Road Transportation Industry (2004)


The region has a recognized strategic importance, which is given by rich natural resources, especially oil and gas, and an important market potential.  Also, BSEC, through its broad spectrum of activities and its composition, is a useful framework for dialogue and mutual confidence building between Member States, thus paving the way for a viable engagement in more ambitious projects.


Andrei Alexandru Babadac

International scientific cooperation is a fundamental element in achieving development objectives which are too far fetched for the reach of a single country. As a member of the European Union, Romania is actively engaged in promoting research, particularly in the development of the ELI-NP project, at similar levels with Czechia and Hungary.


Research is a central element for the development of a modern society. As a member of the European Union, Romania assumed a central spot in the development of the infrastructure in physics and in high-end technologies. ELI-NP is the most ambitious effort of Romanian research with applicability in nuclear physics, astrophysics and in the management of nuclear materials and life sciences.

Academic and science diplomacy is a rather new concept within public diplomacy, promoting concepts such as cooperation and openness beyond national borders. The current geopolitical concept enabled the states to realize that the most efficient method to address global challenges is to put together a vast array of expertise and experience.

 The relationship between scientific research cooperation and diplomacy is rather complex but essentially their purpose is not fundamentally different. Both have as purpose to facilitate the communication between two cultures, each with its own particularities and restrains. At first hand, academic diplomacy seems to have an exclusively positive role, projecting a win-win situation for every partner involved. All parties involved have an apparent gain, the state is served by the benefits of academic diplomacy furthers his agenda on the global stage, promotes its image within international fora, increases its profile within international organizations, and nonetheless attracts foreign talents. On the other hand, the researchers extend their international network, further the spread of their research and identify new sources for financing their research.

Research in Romania

In Romania research is done through the higher education system as well as within the national research institutes and it follows the implementation of the Strategy and National Framework for Research and Development 2014-2020. The Romanian R&D system aims to further the development of science and technology, being designed to increase the competitiveness of Romania’s economy, to further the social quality and to advance knowledge at large.[1]

The Romanian research, development and innovation system has 263 members from the public sector and around 600 private enterprises. Among the public organisations, 56 are public universities,  46 are national research and development institutes (out of which 43 are under the coordination of the Ministry for Research and Innovation) and 65 are under the umbrella of the Romanian Academy.  The National network for research and innovation and technology transfer (ReNITT) comprises 50 organisations: centers for technology transfer, technological information centers, technology and business incubators and 4 science and technology parks.[2]

            The ELI-NP System

ELI-NP  Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics facility represents the nuclear physics pillar of the pan-European ELI project which is implemented in Romania, Hungary and Czechia. ELI was part of the European Strategic Forum of Research Infrastructures since 2006 (made of 36 European mega-research projects). Given its unique characteristics, this multidisciplinary infrastructure will present new opportunities for the study of some of the most fundamental processes occurring in the interaction between light and matter, actively promoting its applications for the benefit of the society.[3]

The ELI-NP project was chosen by Europe’s most prestigious scientific committee in the field of nuclear physics  – the NuPECC to be a component of their long term plan for nuclear physics in Europe –  as their new laboratory for a wide array of scientific experiments. The research of the ELI-NP project can be applied in a wide array of scientific fields, from theoretical physics to the applied: in medicine, pharmacy, nuclear security, for building particle accelerators in other fields, for the development of other important technologies. It will create the premises to facilitate the transfer of technology and for economic development through investments in the development of scientific, technological and industrial parks.[4]

            International cooperation in the field of science and research

The international cooperation in the field of sciences has a long tradition of notable results, even as back as the high times of the Cold War. Putting knowledge together by several states creates not only economic added value but also shares the costs of progress, resulting in higher benefits for everyone involved in the process. The increased international cooperation is even more valuable when the goal is to further common causes such as fighting epidemics, curing diseases or in our case, the development of nuclear physics.

Scientific cooperation is beneficial for everyone involved not only through the absorption of technology but also for the economic and diplomatic exchanges and through the strengthening of the bonds among the partners, despite possible differences on other topics.

Today, the direct and indirect benefits of the international cooperation for the development of science and technology are more visible than ever. Global challenges are too great, complex and interconnected to be tackled solely through the individual efforts of one state or another.

Academic diplomacy is an essential element in solving the major societal problems which are going beyond one’s own borders, such as pandemics, climate change, or even information security. Initiatives such as Europe 2020 are the best portrait for the will of the states to advance through cooperation between science and politics, thus parting the risks and enriching the knowledge.

[1] Research in Romania. EURAXESS. accessed at  30.06.2018.

[2] National Research System. Ministry for Research and Innovation. accssed at 29.06.2018

[3] ELI-NP | Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics, Ministry of Research and Innovation,,  accessed at 30.06.2018.

[4] ELI-NP | Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics, Ministry of Innovation and Research,,  accessed at 30.06.2018.


Cristian Istrate

Kazakhstan is one of the former Soviet states in search of their own identity after 1991 and a rediscovery of a road leading to an accelerated development. A crucial opportunity for this country comes from China and its The New Silk Road project. The aim of this initiative is to strengthen and improve the commercial connectivities between China and other European markets. Some analysts believe that the flagship project will also contribute to relaunching Central Asia’s role in the current globalized world.[1] Kazakhstan’s development will not depend solely on Russia anymore due to its inability to dominate Central Asia’s economic market, therefore, Kazakhstan has become a strategic point of interest for powerful states like China, the United States or other Asian states looking to expand their interests.

Kazakhstan’s digitalization strategy is part of the nation’s long term development plan, being one of  15 countries which have ongoing nation-wide digitalization programs.[2] The Kazakh program under implementation targets 5 relevant areas:[3]

  1. Introduction of digital technologies in all sectors of the economy;
  2. Changing the state’s approach to its citizens from a traditional to a digital one: providing predominantly digital services;
  3. Creating a Digital Silk Road, which means that this country aims to create and develop a secure and high-speed infrastructure for the purpose of transmitting, storing and processing data, both externally and internally;
  4. Developing human capital;
  5. Create the necessary conditions for technological entrepreneurship, but also to strengthen the connections between the business environment, the state and the scientific environment.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has publicly submitted estimations for its expected impact and according to them, the economy will see a 30% growth after its implementation of this program.[4]

Beyond the digitalization of Kazakhstan’s public spheres of activity, other effects will be noticeable in the industrial sector. The impact is predicted from the perspective that this state will rise to through the ranks of high-income countries, the energy industry being one of the most important sectors of the economy that attention is focused on. Technological upgrading of the basic industrial sectors is scheduled to take place by 2025.

Kazakhstan has taken the example of the Industry 4.0 initiative, which comes from another 2011 initiative where politicians, scientists and business people showed interest and studied the necessity of increasing the competitiveness of the German manufacturing industry. The first steps in implementing such a program in Kazakhstan were initiated by the Ministry of Investment and Development and by the Institute for Industry Development. On May 10, 2017, an agreement had been signed with the Fraunhofer Society for the Progress of Applied Research.[5] On May 18, 2017, an agreement with Nokia had been signed. There are other agreements in preparation and negotiation and Kazakhstan will sign them with other external entities to implement the digitization program.

Another step that Kazakhstan makes in this direction is the elaboration of the National Investment Strategy for the period 2018-2022, with the support of the World Bank. Among other things, the strategy promotes investment in potentially active industries and promising industries.[6] The category of potentially active industries includes oil processing, machinery industry, food industry, as well as the processing of minerals, oil and gas. In the second category provided by the strategy may be included finance and tourism.

An important part of the digitalization of the economic sectors is the energy sector. The Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev has publicly presented several measures, part of the Kazakhstan Digital Program, and their aim is to introduce informatic systems in the energy sector. The proposed measures are:[7]

  1. SanaField will allow increased quality and volume of oil production and will reduce production costs .;
  2. Productivity of uranium mining enterprises will increase by up to 10% through the Digital Mines system.
  3. An oil accounting system will be implemented, which will reduce the underground economy in this area by increasing the collection of taxes resulted from the extraction, preparation, processing, transport, sale or export of oil.
  4. In order to ensure equal and non-discriminatory access of companies and gas supplying organizations, and to prevent the irrational distribution of gas, the system called The balanced liquefied petroleum gas will be created;
  5. To organize transparent auctions, the program called Online Auction of Programs will be created. It will exclude direct contact between state officials and entrepreneurs;
  6. An automatic maintenance system shall be established for the maintenance of the oil-producing enterprises .;
  7. An information system for monitoring environmental protection will be created, providing accessibility to real-time information;
  8. Intelligent technologies will be introduced to increase the efficiency of the country’s energy industry.

The extensive digitalization strategy of Kazakhstan does not extend until 2022, but even to 2050, depending on the difficulty of implementing the proposed objectives. Another issue of Kazakhstan in the energy field is  the attempt to reduce the economic and energy dependence on oil resources. The kazakh officials have proposed that 50% of the total energy will come from from renewable sources by 2050.[8] The central objective of the strategy is to make Kazakhstan one of the 30 most developed countries in the world.[9]

Kazakhstan’s evolution proves that Central Asia is not a static region, and even engages in difficult and evolving perspectives. The digitalization process in which Kazakhstan engages is a certain way of evolving from all points of view, not only from an economic perspective, only to the extent that the authorities will maintain this interest until the end of the strategy they had adopted. The fastest effect of economic development will be from the reform of the energy sector, but also of the other industrial sectors.

The combination of scientific research with the willingness of the business community to have a favorable, modern and digitalized environment, as well as the objectives Kazakhstan has in this direction, will turn this state into an example for all ex-Soviet republics and will become Estonia of Central Asia.




[1] Kemal Kirișci, Philippe Le Corre, The new geopolitics of Central Asia: China vies for influence in Russia’s backyard. What will it mean for Kazakhstan?, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[2] ***Digital Kazakhstan: current state of affairs and prospects for future, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[3] Ibidem.

[4] ***Digitalization should increase Kazakhstan’s economy by 30% – Nazarbayev, în’s_economy_by_30__nazarbayev, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[5] ***Industry 4.0: How the Fourth Industrial Revolution works, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[6] ***Government prepared a package of measures to increase foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[7] ***It is planned to introduce modern technological systems to the energy sector of Kazakhstan, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[8] ***Kazakhstan puts focus on renewable energy, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

[9] ***New opportunities under the fourth industrial revolution, în, accessed on 29 June 2018.

Ethnic Nationalism: a barrier for Central Asian cooperation

Bianca Cristina Pârvu

The Central Asian region, which includes Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, incorporates in its structure a large number of different ethnic groups scattered throughout the territory. Due to the area’s long history of tribalism, changing geopolitical influences, border demarcation woes and competition among local groups, Central Asia’s development was consistently slowed down by a lack of intra-regional cooperation, accentuated in 1991 by the newly independent states’ search for an identity. The essential factor standing at the basis of a reluctance for regional cooperation is the omnipresence of nationalism and ethnic tensions.

For one, Central Asia’s modern regional architecture was highly influenced by its Russian neighbour. Under Czarist power, in the 19th century, Central Asia was divided in two main areas: Turkestan (Governor-General of Turkestan) and Steppeoblasti[1], which was dominated by tribalism. Later on during Soviet regime[2], borders were retraced in 1936 for new divisions – Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand.

Joseph Stalin’s politics had an important role in the formation of the identity of  present day nation-states – the first administrative units appeared, where ethnic groups were given hierarchical preferential positions in each state according to their historical dominant areas of activity. Moreover, belonging to an ethnic group entailed different policies on cultural and territorial issues while increasing the overall regional complexity.[3] As a result, the nationalist sentiment started to develop in Central Asia, while simultaneously impacting negatively the relations between the different ethnicities.

The impact was sensitive and intricate in nature- tensions thrived both internally, as tribes were disputing the new areas of influence, as well as regionally, between the newly contoured areas.

After the fall of the USSR and the official emergence of newly independent Central Asian states, the beforementioned effects deepened, the struggles resulting in political instability, border demarcation conflicts, regional competition.[4] For example, in the case of Tajikistan, the internal tribal fights for dominance under the new framework led to a war whose effects are still present.


At a regional level, the Pan-Turkic doctrine was not strong enough to influence Central Asia, just like Eurasianism which did not fully expand into the region, supported only by Kazakhstan.[5]

In contrast to these doctrines, Nationalist impetus were adopted from the beginning by Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Eventually, ethnic nationalism was adopted by all five republics to distinguish their own ethnic group from the minorities in the area, based on official language laws, historical reinterpretations, the creation of myths that reflect the cult of the personality of political leaders and many more.[6]

Unlike in the Soviet period, ethnic nationalism after 1991 was a reaction from inside the states rather than an imposed stance from outside. Also, it determined both the feeling of belonging to a dominant ethnic group, and the exclusion of minorities. Moreover, ethnic nationalism was the evidence that Soviet practices were still present and manifested through the suppression of the rights and freedoms of both institutions and citizens, and through non-democratic elections.

Ethnic nationalism can be considered to be directed towards both externals (mainly Russians and Chinese) and towards internals (citizens of the country) alike. Different practices determine what kind of restrictions will most likely be applied.

Effects of ethnic nationalism directed externally

Nowadays, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan could be considered as the most authoritarian states, having eliminated political opposition and created state-controlled opposition parties.[7] According to Freedom in the World 2017, Kazakhstan[8], Kyrgyzstan[9] and Tajikistan[10] are not completely free-states, and the only republic closer to the principle of freedom is Kyrgyzstan. An example in this regard is Kazakhstan, which refused to offer dual citizenship to the Russians on its territory while the diaspora Kazakhs enjoy this privilege. Another example is the requirement to know Uzbek, which is the official language, decided by law, and which is a major impediment for ethnic Russians and Tajiks in getting jobs.[11]

Effects of ethnic nationalism directed internally

Modern realities were marked by economic and social inequalities based on close cooperation between political elites and groups of influence. Central Asia was a region traditionally made out of tribes. As a consequence, the political elites, initially high-ranking members of an influential tribe (zhuz) whose resources helped them get in power, maintained the ties, and often gave special preference to their group of origin once settled in their positions. For instance, Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov was a member of the Samarkand group, who supported his political endeavours. During his presidency, Karimov also supported the tribe by limiting the influence of other tribes in the government or his decisions, such as Fergana, Bukhara, Khwarazm and Surkash. The same scenario repeated in Kyrgyzstan, where President Askar Akayev was supported by the Sary-Bagysh clan of the Karaka Valley, which led to the marginalization of the southern groups. As we already mentioned, these practices resulted in a civil war in Tajikistan between the Khudjant, Kuliab, Badakhshan and Gissar regional tribes as tensions grew after the country gained independence.

One of the strategies adopted by the new states to mitigate the effects of ethnic tensions was to encourage the formation of a new national identity based on common traditions.


To sum up, the ethnic nationalism encouraged during Soviet time to diminish tribalism and ease control, along with the competition for influence between Central Asian states, had negative consequences from an ethnic, religious, social and political point of view which persist and affect the level of trust between regional players.

To address this on the long term, political decision-makers need to be aware of the effect of current problems on the regional stability and sustainability of development projects where cooperation is mandatory to solve common issues.


[1] De Paul Georg Geiss, Pre-tsarist and Tsarist Central Asia: Communal Commitment and Political Order in Change,Routledge, 2004, p.155.

[2] Uriintuya Batsaikhan și Marek  Dabrowski, Central Asia at 25,  Policy contribution, 2017, p.3

[3] Robert L. Canfield și Gabriele Rasuly-Paleczek, Ethnicity, Authority, and Power in Central Asia, New Games Great and Small, p.86- 99.

[4] Uriintuya Batsaikhan și Marek  Dabrowski, Central Asia at 25,  Policy contribution, 2017, p.11.

[5] Marlène Laruelle, Russia’s Central Asia Policy Russia’s Central Asia Policy and the Role of Russian Nationalism, SILK ROAD PAPER SILK ROAD PAPER April 2008, p. 56-57.

[6] YILMAZ BINGOL, Nationalism and Democracy in Post-Communist Central Asia, Asian Ethnicity, Kocaeli University, Volume 5, Number 1, February 2004, p. 44.

[7] idem, pp. 47-52.

[8] Freedom in the World 2017, Kazahstan, .

[9] Freedom in the World 2017, Kyrgyzstan, .

[10] Freedom in the World 2017, Tajikistan, .

[11] YILMAZ BINGOL, Nationalism and Democracy in Post-Communist Central Asia, Asian Ethnicity, Kocaeli University, Volume 5, Number 1, February 2004, pp.53-56.


Andrei Babadac


The years after World War 2 saw a transformation of the conflict among the developed countries, moving steadfastly from a military to an economic race. Being confronted with the new realities, France had to move forward from a vast colonial empire to a world where it could no longer play a prime role. In 1970, at the height of the decolonization process in Africa and years after the British established their Commonwealth, the Organization of the Francophone Countries was founded in Niger. Widening the reading of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, we can say that today the protection of a country’s interests can be understood at the same time as promoting its interests. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms behind the projection of France’s interests abroad and how they are furthered.


In a context of a constant economic globalization process, resulting in the proliferation of markets and an upsurge in competition, the control of information has become an essential determinant of global competition. Knowledge, innovation and fast adaptability represent the competitive advantage of the 21st century and new-found wealth. While new information and communication technologies now enable rapid and important dissemination of information around the world, collecting and processing the most relevant data is an ongoing challenge. This growing complexity of the business world requires a structured and organized approach to identify potential threats and / or to identify opportunities

Economic intelligence refers to all the activities of collecting, processing and disseminating information useful to economic actors. These activities carried out in a legal and ethical framework.

As a decision-making tool, economic intelligence brings together several complementary activities:

  • Forecasting, to know the economic environment, its evolution, especially in respect to the collection of strategic information
  • Economic security, in respect to risk management, especially the non-material assets such as patents and other confidential information
  • Lobbying, to provide the necessarily framework of development for the economic actors and their access to strategic markets.
  • Training, to provide expertise and further refine the knowledge of the concerned parties

Economic intelligence therefore covers a wide range of expertise and areas of application, spanning over the entire intelligence cycle.

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Protection of the know-how
  • Decision support (analysis, decisional mapping, war room, etc.);
  • Knowledge capitalization;
  • Influence / lobbying.


France was one of the first countries to realize the importance and potential of economic intelligence. In fact, a few years after the disintegration of the USSR, in 1994, the Martre Report was published, which is considered the basis of the French economic intelligence system, in which there is an organization at the highest level that is responsible for defending the national interests and increase their own influence in the international sphere. This is the Committee for Competitiveness and Economic Security, dependent on the prime minister. In addition, of the concept a national policy was adopted towards the protection of France’s technological and industrial assets.

The French concept of economic intelligence is rich and complex, built gradually and recently institutionalized through the establishment of a French “public policy of economic intelligence”. Linked to the French history and culture of an important place given to the State, influenced by the systemic and constructivist conception that runs through many social science researches in France, the concept has different characteristics from what one can find in other countries. The concept of economic intelligence also has other characteristics that make it the (unfinished) result of a social construction rooted in the French context, so much so that one can speak, as Moinet proposes. economic intelligence as being “an innovation” in the French way”[1].

France is a world economic power and the French are fully aware that in today’s interconnected world it is necessary to work to maintain the status quo, especially due to the far greater competition to acquire and maintain a leading role on big markets as well as in the emerging one. For this, France has been concerned for a long time to have a specialized institution dedicated to protecting its interests as well as those of the French companies.

French diplomacy remains a very agile and active institution, on the one hand, to maintain good relations with its traditional allies and former colonies and, secondary, to foster new relationships with emerging powers whenever opportunities arise.

In addition, the French diplomacy not only promote economic agreements but also promote French cultural activities abroad, exchange of students or cooperation for development, which are tools of influence of those that make up the concept of soft power.


Economic intelligence brings added value by facilitating the internationalization of the markets, contributing to the protection of the actor’s information, early-warning of significant political risks and ultimately, providing assistance necessary for both companies and the public sector to continue to create the basis of a country’s prosperity. The success of this action depends on the establishment of a direct relationship between the intelligence services and the national companies, of a public-private partnership based on the principle of mutual trust.


[1] Nicolas Moinet, Petite Histoire de L’intelligence Économique: Une Innovation, Intelligence Économique (Paris: L’Harmattan, DL 2010), 1,


Cristian Istrate

Uzbekistan is one of the most relevant states in Central Asia as it plays a pivotal role in regional affairs. First, it has a central position, which means it is bordered by all the other countries from the region. Also, Uzbekistan is the second largest state from the region and the first in terms of population; precisely, more than half of the entire region’s population lives in Uzbekistan. Additionally, its wealth in oil and gas is an important advantage, as well as the positive perspectives for investments in the agricultural sector.[1]

One of its central objectives is its technological development. In 2017 the Ministry of Innovative Development was established by decree, and on that occasion a strategy for sustainable development was formulated and approved for the period 2017-2021. The key points of the strategy include:

  • introducing innovation in public administration to simplify access to public services and improve the final results;
  • creating a modern infrastructure that meets the needs of the society and promotes development;
  • granting and implementing investments in development;
  • stimulating research and development, but also encouraging young people to join in key areas of research;
  • establishing new scientific and experimental laboratories;
  • changing the focus from traditional energy to green technologies and energy saving;
  • introducing advanced technologies for health and early detection of health problems, timely treatment, and prevention of symptoms.[2]

There is particular focus on to agriculture as part of this strategy. One of the most important points of it implies the identification and introduction of new technologies in the agrarian sector and the identification of new species of plants. This aspect of the strategy aims to increase the export capacity and ensure food security in Uzbekistan.

Partnerships and projects

This strategy also requires the country’s research institutes to identify new opportunities for cooperation with other states in the field of research. An important step was taken in May 2018, when the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) established a meeting with the Uzbekistan Natural Fibrous Research Institute and the German company Festo Group to initiate a special co-operation program in the industrial field.[3] Even though the Republic of Uzbekistan’s accession to UNIDO has been achieved in 1994, this is the first notable project of cooperation between these two entities.

There has been important progress in the economic field and particularly in the banking sector. Uzbekistan concluded a partnership with the World Bank. The cooperation between these two entities is based on providing technical advice to improve Uzbekistan’s economic and financial management. The most important three key points addressed by the World Bank in this partnership include: increasing competitiveness and the private sector, modernizing the agricultural sector, and developing public services.[4]

Nonetheless, the focus is placed on agriculture because Uzbekistan has a huge potential in this regard, and this sector can have a decisive contribution to the sustainable growth of the state’s economy. In this case, the World Bank supports the development of irrigation infrastructure, efficient management of land and water resources.

National industrial entities consider that it’s of particular importance to identify foreign strategic partners to render the projects they have planned. In May, Rostselmash, the Russian-owned company, began assembling its equipment at the Chirchik Factory in Uzbekistan. It is estimated that the first batch of Russian combined harvesters made in Uzbekistan will count 20 copies. Production will gradually increase according to upcoming requirements.

Some similar partnerships are scheduled to be concluded between Uzbekistan, Belarus, Pakistan and South Korea. The Uzbek part is in talks with potential partners, trying to show them the benefits of solid collaboration.[5]

Additionally, one of Uzbekistan’s future projects involves the use of drones in agriculture, with the aim of monitoring crops on fields, vegetables, but also of evaluating the levels of germination. These drones will also be able to identify uncultivated arable land areas and to perform a soil quality evaluation in order to identify the level of complexity of the agricultural needs in order to obtain a certain amount of harvest. The first drones used in tests are named Ptero G1.[6]

Other areas of interest

Another important field for Uzbekistan in terms of technological development is defence, which is why government authorities are looking for opportunities in order to collaborate with other entities. They are planning to allocate 4 percent of GDP to the military field and refresh the military industry. For a coherent vision, the new Doctrine of Defence, which is still in force today, was adopted in 2017. The ultimate goal of the strategy is to turn the Uzbek army into a modern one, in order to be able to effectively fight against terrorism. The Presidential Administration of Uzbekistan wants to strengthen and intensify its relations with Russia and China in order to equip the army with modern weaponry purchased from them. The allocation of 4 percent of GDP in the defence sector in 2018 demonstrates the state’s efforts to revive and develop the national arms industry.[7]

Alongside defence, industry, agriculture and the banking system, another area of ​​strategic importance is the energetic one. Uzbekistan is fully independent energetically due to its oil and gas reserves. In 2017, the government adopted a special five-year program to increase gas production up to 53.5 billion m³ and oil production by 1.9 million tonnes by 2022. There are some planned investments for the financing and construction of petrochemical facilities, in order to change the focus from the exports of raw materials to the exports of value-added products. Other measures in this field are related to the use of alternative energy. For example, the first solar station in the region is located near Samarkand and produces 100 million MW / year. By 2022, there will be finished other four solar stations.[8]

Furthermore, Uzbekistan’s development strategy for the upcoming years includes the implementation of innovations in the field of telecommunications and informatics as well as a series of measures to encourage research in this field.

One of the proposed measures is the tax exemption for IT workers by 2020. The eligibility is given by their registration in the national register. In addition, if the number of finished products exported exceeds 50% of the total sales, the tax exemption is extended by two years. Those entities that will purchase software and new equipment will also be exempt from taxes.[9]

The Uzbek Embassy in New Delhi describes the country as an attractive place for foreign investors for some reasons: political and macroeconomic stability; the advantageous location in relation to other Central Asian countries, but also with Afghanistan; the existing free trade agreements between Uzbekistan and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CSI); well-developed territorial infrastructure; the presence of multiple free economic zones in various parts of the country; the existence of special public policies designed to ensure the protection of foreign investors; stable banking system, but also a well-established educational system.[10]

Uzbekistan’s development after the end of the Soviet era cannot be disputed. It is a state that has identified its potential and has precisely studied the causes of the development of the Occidental countries. Beyond favourable geographic factors, this state understood that research is the central element of development, and investments in research brings many benefits in the future. The development and innovation policies applied in key areas such as infrastructure, industry, defence, banking, agriculture and energy will surely transform Uzbekistan into a regional leader, not only in terms of power and influence, but also as an example of development for the other states in this region.



[1] ***Uzbekistan´s Pivotal Role in Central Asia, in accessed on 28 May 2018.

[2] ***Main vectors of Uzbekistan´s innovative development strategy, in accessed on 28 May 2018.

[3] ***The Ministry of Innovative Development strengthens cooperation with UNIDO, in accessed on 28 May 2018.

[4] ***Pursuing Development Goals in Uzbekistan, in, accessed on  28 May 2018.

[5] ***Uzbekistan: investments, innovations and competent approach, in https:// accessed on 28 May 2018.

[6] ***Uzbekistan to use drones technology for agriculture, in accessed on 28 May 2018.

[7] ***Uzbekistan plans to rebuild its military, in accessed on 29 May 2018.

[8] Umid Aripdjanov, Energy 2018- Uzbekistan, in accessed on 29 May 2018.

[9] ***IT Telecommunications and innovation, in, accessed on 29 May 2018, p. 2.

[10]   ***Why Uzbekistan is attractive as a business destination?,  in accessed on 29 May 2018.

    Web sources:

  1. ***IT Telecommunications and innovation, in;
  2. ***Main vectors of Uzbekistan´s innovative development strategy, in;
  3. ***Pursuing Development Goals in Uzbekistan, in;
  4. ***The Ministry of Innovative Development strengthens cooperation with UNIDO, în;
  5. ***Uzbekistan´s Pivotal Role in Central Asia, in;
  6. ***Uzbekistan plans to rebuild its military, in;
  7. ***Uzbekistan: investments, innovations and competent approach, in;
  8. ***Uzbekistan to use drones technology for agriculture, in;
  9. ***Why Uzbekistan is attractive as a business destination?, in;
  10. Aripdjanov, Umid, Energy 2018- Uzbekistan, in

The CAREC Programme: Corridor 6

Alexandra Colcer

Corridor 6 connects Europe and the Middle East with South Asia (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). It unfolds from North to South, linking the Russian Federation with Iranian and Pakistani ports.

  • Corridor 6a includes both road and rail routes, and links the northwest coast of the Caspian Sea to the Gwadar port of Pakistan, crossing the Russian cities Krasnyi Yar (road) and Aksaraskaya (railway), the Kazakh cities Kurmangazy (road) and Ganyushking (Uzbekistan), the Uzbek cities Karapalkastan (road and rail), Bukhara, Termez, the Afghan cities Hairatan, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and the Pakistani cities Chaman, Surab, Gwadar.
  • Corridor 6b also includes road and rail routes, passing through almost the same countries as the previous one: it starts from Russia, more precisely from Novomarkovka (road) / Kos Aral (rail), reaching Kazakhstan in Zhaisan (road and rail), Aral, Saryagash / Yallama (rail) and Zhibek Zholy (road), and then Uzbekistan in Keles (rail) and Gisht Kuprik (road), Termez / Airatom (rail and road), continuing towards Afghanistan – Hairatan (rail and road), Islam Qala, and then Iran (Dogharoun) and again Afghanistan (Kandahar) to end in Pakistan – Chaman, Basima and Gwadar.
  • Corridor 6c has the same starting point as 6b and it includes the same Russian and Kazakh cities, and also some Uzbek cities: from Khavast (Uzbekistan) it reaches Tajikistan, through Istaravshan, Kurgonteppa and Panji Poyon; it then enters Afghanistan through Shirkan Bandar, Kabul, Torkham (road) and, finally, it arrives in Pakistan, where it passes through the following urban localities: Landi Kotal (road), Lahore, Muzaffargarh and ends in Karachi port.
  • Corridor 6d connects Russia (Krasnyi Yar – road and Aksaraskaya – railway) to Pakistani port Gwadar via Kurmangazy (road) and Ganyushking (rail) in Kazakhstan, Bereket, Ashgabat and Mary in Turkmenistan, Herat (Afghanistan) Kandahar (Afghanistan), Chaman, Surab and Gwadar (Pakistan).
  • Corridor 6e is a railway extension linking Kazakhstan to Iran via Turkmenistan.


Source: CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy 2020, pp. 54

Corridor 6 includes 10,600 km of roads, 7,200 km of railways and 5 logistics centers, being a north-south connecting corridor with strategic importance as it connects landlocked areas with port areas.

There are thirty-eight projects developed along this corridor: six in Afghanistan, three in Kazakhstan, fourteen in Pakistan, six in Tajikistan, one in Turkmenistan, and eight in Uzbekistan. The projects aim at building roads along with the reconstruction of a railroad and a tunnel in Afghanistan, as well as rehabilitation and road and highway construction in Kazakhstan. Pakistan benefits from construction and overtaking of highways and railway rehabilitation, while in Tajikistan projects imply the creation of a logistic center and modernization of roads. The project in Turkmenistan aims at building the Atamurat-Ymamnazar-Aqina railway line. In Uzbekistan, projects concern rail electrification, road reconstruction and the reconstruction of the Termez Airport Complex.

Some of the implemented projects include:

  • Rehabilitation and reconstruction of 113 km of road in Tajikistan, from Ayni to Panjakent district and the Uzbekistan border;
  • Construction of a 75-kilometer railway line in Afghanistan, with associated support infrastructure and facilities such as an upgraded marshaling yard and railway station at Hairatan, railway station and transshipment facilities at Mazar-e-Sharif, signaling and telecommunication systems, and safety facilities;
  • Improvement of 131 kilometers of the A-380 highway in Uzbekistan, a 1,204 kilometer road that runs from the Kazakh border in Uzbekistan’s north toward Afghanistan and Turkmenistan in the south;
  • Rehabilitation of the 140.3-kilometer highway section from Mazar-e-Sharifa to Dara-i-Suf, and the 98.9 km Bamian–Yakawlang road, which comprise the North–South Corridor connecting the ring road through central Afghanistan;
  • Rehabilitation of the national highway network which will connect the central areas of Afghanistan to the ring road;
  • Reconstruction and improvement of the 210-kilometer Andkhoy–Qaisar section of the national primary ring road in Afghanistan;
  • Rehabilitation of seven regional airports in Afghanistan — Bamyan, Chaghcharan, Faizabad, Farah, Maimana, Qalai-Naw, and Zaranj — including runway and stopway reconstruction, building new taxiways and aprons, constructing or renovating passenger terminals, providing water supply, sewerage, and power supply system, reconstructing access roads and car parks, providing airport maintenance plant, equipment, and airport maintenance building;
  • Repair and rehabilitation of the 392-kilometer section of Afghanistan’s Ring Road from Pul-e-Khumri through Naibabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Sheberghan to Andkhoy;
  • Repair and rehabilitation of a 55 km link to the Uzbekistan border from Naibabad to Hairatan (in Afghanistan);
  • Rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged transmission lines and substations in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, involving construction of a 220-kilovolt (kV) power line from Hairatan at the Uzbekistan border through Naibabad to Pul-e-Khumri, construction of a 110 kV line from Naibabad to Mazar-e-Sharif, and construction of substations in Khulm and Pul-e-Khumri

Ongoing projects include:

  • Improvement of the connectivity between the capital Dushanbe and Kurgonteppa, which are two major cities and economic hubs in Tajikistan;
  • Construction of a 64-kilometer four-lane, access-controlled motorway connecting Shorkot and Khanewal in Punjab Province (Pakistan), which is the last missing section of the national motorway M-4 to be constructed;
  • Reconstruction of about 300 kilometer road section between the capitals and administration centers of Aktobe and Artyrau Provinces in western Kazakhstan and rehabilitate about 135 km connector road between Mukur and Kulsary also in Kazakhstan;
  • Reconstruction of the remaining 108-kilometer gap from Beharak to Eshkashim (Afghanistan) in the northeastern corridor, which starts at city of Kunduz and connects to the border-crossing point with Tajikistan at Eshkashim;
  • Modernization of Sapary–Jalalabad, Sharan–Angoor Ada, and Chan-e-Anjir–Gereshk sections (188 kilometers) in Afghanistan;
  • Rehabilitation of 90 kilometers of the Qaisar–Bala Murghab section of the Herat–Andkhoy road and construction of approximately 143 kilometers of the Bala Murghab–Laman section (all in Afghanistan);
  • Improvement of 145 km (Bagramy-Sapary, Jabul Saraj-Nijrab; and Faizabad-Beharak sections) of reconstructed, rehabilitated, and appropriately maintained roads; operation and maintenance of 75 km of new railway line, loops and stations between Hairatan and Mazar-e-Sharif;
  • Electrification of the 140 km Marakand – Karshi railway section (Uzbekistan) completed;
  • Rehabilitation of 90 km of the Qaisar–Bala Murghab section of the Herat–Andkhoy road and construct approximately 143 km of the Bala Murghab–Laman section (all in Afghanistan);
  • Upgrading and reconstruction of road sections of about 788.5 kilometers in Kyzylorda oblast in Kazakhstan, excluding Kyzylorda bypass; and upgrading and reconstruction of road sections of about 273.4 km in South Kazakhstan oblast from Kyzylorda oblast border to Shymkent, including the bypasses to Kyzylorda and Shymkent;
  • Building the 143 kilometer section from Bala Murghab to Leman (Afghanistan).

The total cost of the projects is over USD 5 billion, and the financiers are Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Afghanistan Infrastructure Trust Fund, Clean Energy Fund, Department for International Development, European Union, OPEC, the governments of involved states, Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, Kreditanstalt for Wiederaufbau, and United Nations Office for Project Services.





The CAREC Programme: Corridor 5

Raluca Şancariuc

Corridor 5 connects East Asia with the Middle East and South Asia. It starts from THE Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in People’s Republic of China and continues in the Kyrgyz Republic passing through Yierkeshitan (China) – Irkeshtam (Kyrgyzstan) border crossing point, from where it advances towards the Republic of Tajikistan through Karamyk (Kyrgyzstan) – Karamyk (Tajikistan) border crossing point. From here, Corridor 5 enters the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through Panji Poyon (Tajikistan) – Shirkhan Bandar (Afghanistan) border crossing point and, after Pakistan became a member of CAREC in 2010, was extended in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan via Torkham (Afghanistan) – Peshawar (Pakistan) point, ending at Karachi port in Pakistan


Source: Asian Development Bank (2014). Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring. A Forward-Looking Retrospective. pp. 69

Corridor 5 includes 3,700 km of roads, 2,000 km of railway and a logistic centre.

The shortest route linking Central Asia to a seaport is along this corridor and involves transiting Pakistan from Torkham (Afghanistan) – Peshawar (Pakistan) border crossing point to Karachi (Pakistan, seaport at the Arab Sea). Yet cargo transport along this corridor is difficult as the route faces numerous challenges, from climate and terrain conditions (for instance the part crossing Tajikistan unfolds along mountainous terrain), to security issues (cargo transport and insurance in Afghanistan and Pakistan involves higher costs).

Corridor 5 is mainly used for regional road transport, railway infrastructure being underdeveloped: in China railway transport is possible only between Urumqi and Kashi, while the railway network in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is not well connected, and in Afghanistan there is practically no railway.

In Pakistan, the corridor is complementary to the Economic Corridor China-Pakistan that unfolds from Gwadar seaport (Pakistan, seaport at the Arab Sea) to Khunjerab Pass (at the border between Pakistan and China), the latter involving USD 46 billion investment with Chinese funding. There is a significant potential for increasing trade between China and Pakistan along Corridor 5, but traffic volume can increase only if infrastructure and security improve, while cross border trade agreements are completed and important border crossing points (such as Karamyk) become more accessible for shipments from all CAREC member countries.

Most ongoing projects are focused on the rehabilitation of road infrastructure in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The first tranche (USD 195 million) of CAREC Corridor Development Investment Programme was approved in 2017, with the goal of extending and rehabilitating several roads in Pakistan (Petaro – Sehwan, Ratodero – Shikarpur, Dara Adamkhel – Peshawar). Moreover, the rehabilitation of M-4 highway’s Gojra – Shorkot – Khanewal section in Pakistan (USD 273 millions) was approved in 2016, after the rehabilitation of multiple roads along the main trade corridor in Pakistan was started in 2014: Sarai Saleh – Havelian section in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provence and the express road Hasanabdal – Havellian (288 milioane USD). In Afghanistan, the reconstruction of Beharak – Eshkashim road (connecting the Afghan city of Kunduz with the Tadjik border), along with Dar-i-Suf – Yakawlag, Sapary – Jalalabad, Sharan – Angoor Ada, and Chan-e-Anjir – Gereshk roads is currently ongoing (USD 631 millions).

Projects implemented along this corridor are also focused on developing road infrastructure in Tajikistan, by improving the road that connects Dushanbe capital city with Kurgonteppa – two of the biggest and most important cities in the country (USD 98 million) –, and also by improving the routes Sayron – Karamyk and Vose – Khovaling (USD 90 million). The road linking Dushanbe with the Kyrgyz border was previously rehabilitated (USD 89 million).

In Kyrgyzstan, parts of Osh – Gulcha – Sopu Korgon national highway were already modernized (USD 43 million), along with the infrastructure of border crossing points located at the border with Tajikistan and China, while cross border agreements between these three countries were also signed (USD 40 million).

In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region an urban infrastructure development project was completed in 2015, leading to the improvement of road infrastructure, traffic management and environment sanitation in Altay, Changji, Hami, Kuytun and Turpan cities (USD 182 million). Moreover, Korla – Kuqa highway section was modernized along with other local roads between 2007 and 2014 (USD 594 million).



The CAREC Programme: Corridor 4

Alexandra Colcer

Corridor 4 connects the Russian Federation with East Asia, more specifically with Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Mongolia, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in People’s Republic of China.

o Corridor 4a connects the city of Urumqi in North-West of China with the Russian Federation via West Mongolia. The border crossing points are Takeshikent (China) – Yarant (Mongolia), then crossing the Mongolian towns of Olgii and Hovd. The access to the Russian Federation is made through the points Ulaanbaishint (Mongolia) – Tashanta (Russian Federation).

o Corridor 4b represents the most important trade route for Mongolia, especially for the goods coming from the Russian Federation that have East Asian markets as destination. The corridor crosses Eastern Mongolia, passing through important cities such as Khiagt (Russian Federation) – Altanbulag (Mongolia) to the north and Zamiin-Uud (Mongolia) – Erenhot (China) to the south. Most Mongolian exports have Japan and the Republic of Korea as destination, and the Erenhot-Jining-Tianjin route, which is about 980 km long, with access to Xingang Harbor, offers a direct route.

o Corridor 4c has the shortest route, extending from the Russian border Naushki to Sukhbaatar and Bichigt (both in Mongolia), and being an extension of the two main corridors mentioned above.

coridor 4 1

Source: CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy 2020 pp. 48


Corridor 4 includes 2,400 km of roads and 1,100 km of railways; the eastern section of the corridor is separated from the other CAREC corridors. The existence of a trade imbalance between Mongolia and its neighbours, China and the Russian Federation, represented the premise for the construction of these transport routes that will contribute to the development of Mongolia and will reduce regional disparities. The number of connected inhabitants is not as large as in the case of other corridors, as Mongolia itself is not a country with a high population density, but the importance of this corridor derives from the link it creates with important economic centres. The main goods transported on this corridor are: zinc cathodes, copper cathodes, a large number of minerals, but also food.

Being the smallest corridor, whose surface unfolds mostly in Mongolia, all the projects are concentrated in this country and include: road reconstruction, construction of a new airport in the Mongolian capital, and investment in improving rail transport. Six of them have already been implemented and aimed the improvement of road infrastructure:

  • Improvement of 5 kilometres in 10 locations of local-access and soum-center roads;
  • Improvement of 2 km Yarant–Hovd city road;
  • Expansion of highway capacity by upgrading or constructing about 177 km of the Hailar-Manzhouli Highway (Inner Mongolia, China), plus upgrading and rehabilitation of about 413 km o f the highway network;
  • 428 km of asphalt concrete road between Choyr (Mongolia) and the PRC border in Zamyn-Uud;
  • Reconstruction of about 215 kilometers of the paved roads between Erdenesant (Mongolia) and Arvaikheer (Mongolia);
  • Reconstruction and improvement of all-weather gravel surface of about 86 km of the earth road between Kharkhorin and Tosontsengel; reconstruction and improvement of all-weather gravel surface of about 93 km of the earth road between Arvaikheer and Khovd (Mongolia);

 The ongoing project includes a multimodal logistic centre at Zamyn Uud (Mongolia).

The total cost of the projects is over USD 600 million, and the financiers are: Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Government of the Republic of Korea, Nordic Development Fund, Government of Mongolia, Government of the People’s Republic of China.

coridor 4 2