(MENAFN- AzerNews) Euronews Business News Agency published an analysis on the
United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia
(SPECA) that took place in Baku during the last week of SPECA, Azernews reports.
SPECA: Central Asia reaffirms its key role in international
In Baku, during SPECA week, the United Nations programme for
Central Asian countries, the Member States signed new agreements to
develop better international connections between Asia and
Baku welcomed participants to SPECA week, a special UN programme
designed for the countries of Central Asia. This year marks the
programme's 25th anniversary and was the first time that a summit
of leaders from SPECA states was organised.
The main topic focused on transforming the region into a
connectivity hub with global outreach. Sustainable transport, trade
and energy are among the key areas for SPECA, which was established
in 1998 to facilitate integration of these countries into the
global economy and to become a platform for cooperation aimed at
achieving UN Sustainable Development goals.
Azerbaijan-Central Asia relations at 'record high'
SPECA unites five Central Asian countries, along with
Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan and two UN agencies. The summit
supported the creation of the SPECA Multi Partner Trust Fund under
the auspices of the UN.
Azerbaijan, which is the chair of SPECA this year, will provide
$3.5 million to this Fund.
"This programme is based on economic relations between Central
Asia and Azerbaijan; today we see the new dimension of that
interaction," said Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.
"During the last two years, interaction between Azerbaijan and
all Central Asian countries, and also among Central Asian
countries, is at a record high. So this is a new reality and we
need to capitalise on that.
"We have excellent relations with all SPECA states. We have a
lot of investment projects now: Azerbaijan invests in Central Asia,
and Central Asian invests in Azerbaijan. We have projects such as
the East-West Trans-Caspian Route, which is one the most attractive
transport routes for Central Asia – connecting to the Black Sea and
the Mediterranean and then on to Europe through integrated
connectivity projects. We see a lot of positive dynamics on the
A connectivity hub: Boosting the region's economic potential
The Baku Declaration adopted at the summit emphasised a strong
political willingness to jointly capitalise on the region's vast
"The analysis shows the opportunity to increase the mutual trade
turnover of our countries from the current $52 billion to $100
billion by 2030," said the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat
The SPECA Economic Forum, which took place ahead of the summit,
discussed how the region can become a connectivity hub between
Europe and Asia.
"It's the most important platform that brings together one of
the world's biggest regions of landlocked countries," explained
Samad Bashirli, Azerbaijan's Deputy Minister of Economy and
Co-Chair of SPECA Economic Forum.
"As landlocked countries we have to cooperate and increase our
transport cooperation, which in turn will facilitate our trade and
increase our integration into the world economy," he added.
Improving the logistics capacity and performance index of trade
corridors is crucial for the SPECA landlocked countries.
"We see a big role for digital solutions, in making sure that
goods can pass through the corridor between Europe and Asia much
faster," said Dmitry Mariyasin, the Deputy Executive Secretary at
UNECE and fellow Co-Chair of SPECA Economic Forum.
"It is about adopting UN norms and standards in how member
states clear customs, how freight documentation is exchanged. It is
about making sure that the different parts of the ecosystem, the
traders, the customs authorities and government officials can use
similar approaches, and can literally use one language; and this is
what we are focusing on from the UN side."
Re-greening Uzbekistan's desertified Aral Sea region
Uzbekistan makes strides towards a greener future through solar
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route
The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route took centre
stage at the forum. This multilateral, multimodal corridor connects
China and Europe, passing through the region via ferry terminals,
rail systems, and roads across various countries.
To enhance the Middle Corridor's efficiency a roadmap for the
digitalisation of multimodal data and document exchange, in
accordance with UN standards and documents, was endorsed in
"The idea is to harmonise digitalisation along the whole supply
chain using UN standards as well as UN semantic standards and
reference data models, so that data can flow seamlessly along the
whole supply chain, moving from one mode of transport to another,
from one sector of the supply chain to another. The buzzword in all
of that is interoperability," said Mario Apostolov, Regional
Adviser at the UNECE's ECT Division.
"This is a multimodal route that we are trying to develop; since
the demand has grown, we expect that when the decisions and
recommendations of SPECA are applied it will have a multiplier
effect that will significantly increase freight traffic on our
corridor," revealed Gaidar Abdikerimov, the Secretary General of
the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.
Kazakhstan 'quite serious' about the green energy transition
How SPECA can become a region of interconnected energy systems,
moving towards lower carbon energy sources, was another major topic
of discussions in Baku.
"We are really encouraging member states to scale renewable
energy resources, to integrate them in their energy mix through low
and zero-carbon technologies, to strengthen the capacity of the
grid to absorb the additional renewable energy capacity, because
this will help the region to achieve energy resiliency and to
achieve net zero," said Iva Brkic, the Economic Affairs Officer at
UN agencies are working with SPECA states, helping to develop
tools and design energy policies to achieve resilient and carbon
neutral energy systems.
Euronews asked the President of Kazakhstan, Kasym Jomart
Tokayev, how his country sees the net-zero transformation.
"We are quite serious about decarbonising our economy, and about
the diversification of our economy, making impetus on developing
non-carbon sectors in Kazakhstan," he told Euronews.
"It's a challenge. There needs to be a huge change in our
mindsets first of all, and I do acknowledge that it's a general
trend in global economic development, and Kazakhstan won't lag
behind, and at the same time we are very much committed to
environmental protection. Yes, Kazakhstan still relies on coal in
its energy mix, but I think that in the nearest future the
situation will change positively."
The region's energy potential is huge. SPECA states are working
to diversify energy transit routes to global markets.
"Energy resources are distributed unevenly. To ensure the energy
security of countries, there is an objective need for cooperation
and interconnection," said Samir Valiyev, Azerbaijan's Deputy
Minister of Energy.
"The SPECA program at the forum helps to foster this
cooperation, as well as the organisation of ongoing discussions and
the harmonisation of rules, and legislation in the support and
organization of various infrastructure projects."
Climate change and lack of water resources are among the
region's crucial challenges. SPECA can, no doubt, play an important
role in addressing these challenges.