Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program
Blue: Member of CAREC and Green: Only focussing on some regions of the country
|Headquarters||Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines|
|Area served||Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan|
|Parent||Asian Development Bank|
The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program is an Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported initiative which was established in 1997 to encourage economic cooperation among countries in the Central Asian region. In particular, cooperation among the ADB member states of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia,Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The CAREC program has focused to date on financing infrastructure projects and improving the region's policy environment in the priority areas of transport (especially road transport), energy (including the water-energy nexus), trade policy, and trade facilitation (especially customs cooperation). As of 31 December 2004, the ADB had approved seven regional investment projects totaling $275.1 million, mobilized cofinancing of $135.2 million for three of these projects, and approved 22 technical assistance grants totaling $12.9 million. In 2005-2006, investment projects totaling $247 million and technical assistance grants are planned totaling $12.3 million.
The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program was initiated in 1997. CAREC’s goal is to improve living standards and to reduce poverty in CAREC countries through more efficient and effective regional economic cooperation. To date, the Program has focused on financing infrastructure projects and improving the region's policy environment in the priority areas of: (i)transport, (ii) energy, (iii) trade policy, and (iv) trade facilitation. These areas are critical to improving the region’s economic performance and livelihoods of the people, especially of the poor.
Spanning nearly 4,000 kilometres across Central Asia, the CAREC Program includes 10 countries in the Central Asia region, namely:
- People's Republic of China (focusing on Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region)
- Kyrgyz Republic
In addition, invitations to participate are under consideration by Turkmenistan and Russian Federation.
CAREC is also an alliance of multilateral institutions active in promoting economic cooperation in Central Asia, comprising Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and World Bank. ADB’s CAREC Unit (CARECU) has served as the Program Secretariat since March 2000. CAREC operates in partnership with other key regional cooperation programs and institutions, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Community.
CAREC is a powerful platform to marshal financial resources. The combined assistance of the multilateral institutions in the priority areas of transport, energy and trade during 2006-2008 totals $2.3 billion for 42 projects. It represents a robust development partnership and concrete example of countries and institutions cooperating.
Since 2001, ministerial conferences are organized annually:
- 2011 – Baku: At the 10th CAREC gathering in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November 2011, ministers endorsed a 10-year framework for the region, titled CAREC 2020: 10-year Strategic Framework for the CAREC Programme.
- 2012 – Wuhan: held from Oct. 29 to Oct. 30 in Wuhan, capital city of central China’s Hubei Province. The ministers discussed how to implement CAREC 2020: Vision and actions. Negotiations concentrated on development of road, railways and cross border connections to facilitate trade and transport through the region. The 10 ministers agreed on a plan to implement more than US $23 billion in new regional transport infrastructure projects, together with energy and trade initiatives, aimed at creating seamless connectivity and greater prosperity in the region.
- 2013 – Astana: held from Oct. 23 to Oct. 24 in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan. The Ministers supported the refined CAREC Transport and Trade Facilitation Strategy 2020, and endorsed the revised Trade Policy Strategic Action Plan 2013-2017. It was also agreed to host the physical base of the CAREC Institute in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region 
- 2014 – Kyrgyzstan: 13th CAREC Ministerial Conference will be held in Kyrgyzstan (no further information is available as of February 2014).
A 75-kilometer stretch of railway line connecting the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to the country's bustling northern border with Uzbekistan opened in December 2011, reducing trade bottlenecks, boosting commerce, and speeding the flow of much-needed humanitarian assistance.
The rail link is being constructed from a $165 million ADB grant and should be completed by the end of this year. It will connect Afghanistan to Uzbekistan's expansive rail network, and to regional markets in Europe and Asia. Future links are planned, which will run across the north and to other parts of the country and region, including Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
- "11th CAREC Ministerial Conference Hosted by China". The Gazette of Central Asia (Satrapia). 27 October 2012.
- "CAREC Ministers Agree on $23 Billion Action Plan to Boost Central Asia Links". ADB. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Joint Ministerial Statement. 12th Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Ministerial Conference.". CAREC Program. 24 October 2013.
- "ADB President inaugurates Afghan rail line". Beta.adb.org. 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- "Afghan Railway Opens, Promotes Cooperation". Carecprogram.org. 2011-12-21. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- CAREC Program
- CAREC program at the Asian Development Bank
- The New Silk Road: Ten Years of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program
- Regional Cooperation and Economic Development in Central Asia