Today in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Administrator Samantha Power chaired the C5+1 Regional Connectivity Ministerial with the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. During the ministerial, Administrator Power announced an additional $14.3 million in regional programming demonstrating the deepening partnerships between the United States and Central Asian countries.
To enhance regional connectivity and cooperation, the C5+1 governments agreed to deepen collaboration to increase trade and reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
Supporting Greener Energy Use
USAID will increase collaboration with the Central Asian countries and exchange carbon emission reduction strategies. These include expanding opportunities to leverage Central Asia’s electricity generation more efficiently across the region, and prioritizing reducing emissions by implementing new technologies and promoting energy efficiency.
Simplifying Exchange of Goods Across Borders
USAID will support work to modernize customs systems among the Central Asian countries that will increase cross border trade and connectivity. Each country will work to expand automation and utilize common protocols and recognition of each country’s forms and procedures to reduce border transit times for goods, allowing for ease of trade. These efforts will reduce the time and cost of moving goods across borders, strengthening regional trade linkages and transparency. Many of these measures are key aspects of membership in the World Trade Organization.
In addition to the new agreements, Administrator Power announced the following USAID regional investments:
Fostering Private Sector Investments to Advance Economic Growth
Building on previous work to expand trade and bolster the private sector in Central Asia, USAID will contribute $10.8 million to match private investments with grants for up to 100 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The MSMEs will primarily be startups operated by those from marginalized communities and working in key sectors like ICT and the green economy. These investments will help these startups create new software tools that will upgrade their customers’ business operations and increase sales, while unleashing new technologies, improving business practices, and boosting efficiency.
Additionally, this project is projected to help create and improve jobs for 8,000 Central Asians while equipping women, youth, and vulnerable populations with in-demand skills for the twenty-first century economy.
USAID Central Asia Information Integrity Initiative
This new, $1.5 million regional program will work with our Central Asian partners to improve the quality of information online and in the media, and give citizens the skills to detect and combat misinformation. Building upon previous initiatives to support a strong information environment, USAID will support public campaigns to improve media literacy and counter disinformation by equipping journalists and media professionals with the investigative and data journalism skills that encourage the publication of the most accurate information. USAID will also work with local governments to develop policies that reduce misinformation and disinformation.
Advancing Energy Security and Regional Electricity Trade
For over a decade, USAID has supported renewable energy transformation across Central Asia. With an additional investment of $2 million, USAID will work to increase private-sector investments and mobilize climate financing to expand renewable energy. This new investment will help pave the way for more transparent business practices, increased investment and innovations from U.S. companies, and stronger commercial integration in Central Asia.
Following the Ministerial, Administrator Power and ministers from the five Central Asian countries also issued a joint statement affirming their shared commitment to enhance regional cooperation with the United States by strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties, diversifying export-import markets, boosting green energy development and energy efficiency, and driving inclusive and sustainable economic development. The participants also affirmed their commitment to protecting human rights, including the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities.