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Expanding South Central Asian Trade


FILE - A view of a local market in the ancient city of Uzgen in southern Kyrgyzstan.

"The region has enormous barriers preventing the movement of peoples, goods, energy, and ideas."

The United States is redoubling its efforts to advance the New Silk Road initiative which economically links Afghanistan with Central and South Asia.

"The region," said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Fatema Sumar, “has enormous barriers preventing the movement of peoples, goods, energy, and ideas."

The United States sees an opportunity for people across this region to have a better future.It is in the economic interest of these states to have stable neighbors, where economic conditions are enhanced by economic diversification. And this is exactly what the United States is supporting through the New Silk Road initiative, which focuses on four areas: creating a regional energy market, facilitating trade and transit, streamlining customs and borders, and connecting people and businesses.

The United States believes the new North-South trade routes across Central and South Asia can ultimately complement important East-West routes that tie Europe and East Asia.

With regard to energy markets in Central Asia, there is tremendous opportunity to further develop capacity and seek new markets for export. Several Central Asian countries have already found a market for their electricity in Afghanistan. Recently, the World Bank's CASA-1000 project, which aims to bring surplus summer power from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reached another important milestone with the signing of the transit price agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Action on the development of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, or TAPI, natural gas pipeline can provide additional markets for Turkmen natural gas in South Asia, where the demand for natural gas is critical. In addition, Afghanistan stands to benefit from transit revenue and jobs as it continues to strengthen its economy.Unlike other regional energy projects, TAPI can only be financed by the private sector and not the donor community. Therefore, it is critically important to identify an international oil company that is willing to lead the TAPI consortium and help bring the project to fruition.

The U.S. believes the Silk Road initiative is the best way to bring about a stable, secure and prosperous future for South and Central Asia.

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