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ADB calls for greater regional cooperation

Countries in Central Asia need to bolster regional cooperation to boost economic development in the landlocked region, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a recent report. "The best case scenario indicates that the region's per capita incomes can double and that poverty can halve by 2015 if comprehensive economic policies on economic reform, regional cooperation and industrial competitiveness are implemented," Ganeshan Wignaraja, senior trade economist at ADB's Office of Regional Economic Integration, said on Tuesday from the bank's headquarters in Manila. "If such policies are not implemented, however, economic growth will be lower and poverty will be higher," Wignaraja warned. His comments came after the ADB launched a report on the region on Friday, entitled 'Central Asia: Increasing Gains from the Trade Through Regional Cooperation in Trade Policy, Transport and Customs Transit'. The report says that the former Soviet republics in the region would gain considerable benefits from accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and regional cooperation in trade policy combined with greater regional cooperation in transport and customs transit. "Regional cooperation in transport, trade and energy are important for future economic prosperity in Central Asia," said Wignaraja, the author of an earlier ADB report on economic prospects in Central Asia up to 2015. According to Wignaraja, current regional challenges include high transport costs, trade barriers and poor energy infrastructure. The ADB's report said that increased regional cooperation in transport and customs transit would help the former Soviet republics reduce costs and make transit times shorter and more predictable for international shipments. This would in turn help the Central Asian republics expand trade, participate more in global production networks and diversify trade in terms of both geographical distribution and commodity composition. "The prospects for regional cooperation in Central Asia for the next five years seem reasonable if current efforts can be enhanced through greater political will and improvements in capacity to implement regional projects," Wignaraja noted.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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