The United States is committed to partnering with Central Asia to build democratic governments powered by free market economies and to cooperate on global challenges such as climate change and violent extremism.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, “What we want to see is a Central Asia that claims its place as an engine of growth at the heart of a modern and dynamic Asia.”
Central Asia is not only blessed with a rich array of natural resources, but also with human resources. Half the population in Kazakhstan is under the age of 30. To deliver on the aspirations of this new generation,” said Secretary Kerry, “we want to help Central Asia build a solid basis for prosperity by integrating it into a global rules-based system. And that’s why we have supported Kazakhstan’s successful effort to join the World Trade Organization, and it’s why we are promoting . . . what we call our New Silk Road Initiative, which will link Central Asia and South Asia in four key areas: energy, trade and transit, customs and border operations, and connecting businesses and people.”
In order to reap the benefits of economic prosperity, the nations of Central Asia will have to make choices. They will have to decide whether to tolerate corruption or promote rules that unleash opportunity for all; whether to build relatively closed societies where public debate is discouraged and new ideas are shunned or whether to build open societies where innovation is welcome.
The answer to these questions will determine whether this region can attract foreign direct investment. As Secretary Kerry noted, businesses invest where laws protect them and where they are able to get a return on investment.
Secretary Kerry also highlighted opportunities for the region to lead on other global challenges such as climate change and the global effort against violent extremism, saying “We need to come together to build the right kind of future, with gradually increasing prosperity, a firm commitment to environmental health, and a determination to keep people everywhere working together to do it safe and secure.”
“I have every confidence that working together,” said Secretary Kerry, “we will rise to this challenge. And I am promising you today that in that effort, you will have the enduring friendship and support of the United States.”