The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic Hosted the First European Union-Central Asia Economic Forum at the Level of the Prime Ministers (October 5th, 2021, Bishkek City)
The EU delegation headed by the Executive Vice President ot the European Commission V. Dombrovskis, all the Heads of the Government from CA countries and the top management of the financial institutions EBRD, EIB, WCO, Energy Charter, EU Chamber of Commerce, Ministers from EU and CA addressed as the main speakers of the High-Level Plenary Sessions.
The main focus given to green recovery, digitalization and better business environment and in line with focus on promoting resilience, prosperity, and regional cooperation.
The High-level panelists reaffirmed their firm commitment to strengthen the EU-Central Asia cooperation to support transformation of the economies of Central Asia into diversified and competitive private-sector driven economies that can create jobs, integrate in regional and global value chains, and provide opportunities and a level-playing field for all economic actors, as well as help Central Asian states build back better.
Recognized the devastating economic and social harm brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and acknowledged the significant EU support under the Central Asia COVID-19 Crisis Response Programme and direct EU assistance provided through the Regional Indicative Program for Central Asia for 2021-2027.
Expressed concerns about the effects of climate change on water, energy resources in Central Asia, which threaten sustainable development of the region.
The President of the Kyrgyzs Republic Sadyr Japarov at the opening speech reaffirmed and welcomed commitment of the EU and CA governments expressed in their national determined contributions to reduce emissions and called for joint efforts fighting against climate change and stressed the importance of preservation of biodiversity. He suggested the need to generate clean and climate neutral renewable energy and the need to develop and adopt policies that ensure transition to a net-zero-emissions economy, attract investments in renewable energy sources, encourage emissions-reducing innovations and enable/facilitate intra-regional trade in sustainably generated electricity.
Heads of the EU CA Governments recognized the need to attract green and climate finance for the implementation of green and climate-resilient projects by sectors of the economy for the progressive transition of Central Asian states to a green economy.
EU leaders welcomed the adoption of national digital strategies by all Central Asian states and noted the progress of recent reforms, particularly in e-government, before and during the pandemic. Stressed the need to develop action and interoperability plans to accompany these strategies, as well as to adopt enabling policies to attract investments in resilient and secure ICT infrastructure, including cross-border infrastructure. Agreed to put efforts to improve quality and coverage of digital infrastructure and increase internet penetration to ensure inclusive access and education opportunities as well as for all citizens and businesses, especially in rural areas, thus strengthening cohesion and reducing digital gap and regional disparities.
Leaders of EU and CA agreed to improve digital infrastructure, like the World Bank’s Digital CASA and the EU’s support and welcomed the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem, which is the first strategic priority of the EU’s Digital Education Action Plan for 2021-27, and which will be soon piloted in Central Asia.
Healthy business climate is essential for increasing employment and diversifying production and mutual exports, including exports of manufactured goods, to facilitate connectivity between the EU and Central Asia and make growth more sustainable and inclusive. Participants stressed the necessity to continue working together on reforms improving the business climate in Central Asia, via for instance the EU Central Asia Invest Programme, including the OECD policy component.
EU and Central Asia trade relations under the new EU Ready4Trade programme will support businesses and in particular small and medium enterprises (SMEs) further efforts are needed to increase export-readiness and competitiveness of SMEs.
Central Asia will continue to benefit from GSP+ preferences after the reform of the system. The President S. Japarov called for further strengthening of the trade and economic cooperation between the EU and Central Asia by promoting diversification of trade between the parties and integration of Central Asia states into the international trading system.
The Secretariat of the OECD will prepare the following: the Forum will take note of the discussions for future occasions. The Prime minister A. Japarov offered to create a permanent Secretariat of the Economic Forum in Bishkek to coordinate the work on conducting Annual or Biannual economic forums in the capital cities of the CA countries. A second economic forum to host was suggested by Kazakhstan in 2023 in Nursultan.