The Global Gateway Investors Forum for EU-Central Asia Transport Connectivity opened in Brussels, bringing together governments, financing institutions, businesses and civil society from Europe, Central Asia and beyond. European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis announced that European and international financial institutions present at the Forum will commit €10 billion in support and investments towards sustainable transport connectivity in Central Asia.
Over the next two days, participants will discuss the required investments to transform the Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor into a cutting-edge, multimodal, and efficient route, connecting Europe and Central Asia within 15 days.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined the urgency to find alternative reliable efficient trade routes between Europe and Asia that do not transit Russia. In addition to opening new possibilities for businesses, the development of transport connectivity is also a means to strengthen the regional integration and economic development of Central Asia. This is why the Investors Forum focuses on transport connections that comply with all aspects of sustainability, in line with the trusted connectivity principles of Global Gateway.
The €10 billion commitment is a mixture of ongoing and planned investments which, following extensive consultations with international partners present at the Forum, the European Commission foresees to be mobilised for sustainable transport development in Central Asia in the short term.
In concrete terms, several significant commitments are being made on the first day of the Forum as part of the overall €10 billion. These include:
The European Investment Bank (EIB), represented by its Vice President Teresa Czerwińska, signed Memoranda of Understanding totalling €1.47 billion with the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan as well as the Development Bank of Kazakhstan. These loans will be made possible by guarantees provided by the European Commission.
Later today, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), represented by its Vice President Mark Bowman, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Kazakhstan, with an investment pipeline worth €1.5 billion with projects already under preparation for the overall development of transport connectivity in the Central Asian region.
The Investors Forum brings together high-level representatives from the European Commission, EU Member States, Central Asia as well as Caucasus countries and Türkiye. Other participants include G7 nations, other like-minded countries, financial institutions and the private sector.
The Investors’ Forum builds upon the findings of the June 2023 study on Sustainable Transport Connections between Europe and Central Asia, which was led by the European Commission and conducted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The study identified 33 hard infrastructure needs and 7 soft connectivity key actions the delivery of which would greatly enhance the operational efficiency and economic attractiveness of the trans-Caspian transport networks. These were presented at the 2nd EU-Central Asia Economic Forum, which took place in May 2023 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Since the publication of the study, the European Commission has worked towards operationalising the study’s findings. The EU and its partners, in Team Europe and beyond, are together mobilising €10 billion. The European Commission is confident that the discussions taking place at the Investors’ Forum will unblock further funding for the development of key transport networks in Central Asia.
The EU’s longstanding partnership with the five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) has been further strengthened, building on the relationship established in 1991 and upgraded in 2019. The Investors Forum deepens this collaboration as the EU moves decisively to foster the establishment of direct transport links with Central Asia through the Black Sea and Caucasus regions, in full partnership with Central Asian countries, Türkiye, as well as those of the Eastern Partnership, who are actively participating in the Investors Forum.
The Global Gateway strategy is the EU’s positive offer to reduce the worldwide investment disparity and boost smart, clean and secure connections in digital, energy and transport sectors, and to strengthen health, education and research systems. In a Team Europe approach that brings together the European Union, EU Member States, and European development finance institutions, together we aim to mobilise up to €300 billion in public and private investments from 2021 to 2027, creating essential links rather than dependencies, and closing the global investment gap.
Source: The European Commission