10 billion euros for Asia-Europe connectivity

European and Asian financial institutions have recently agreed €10 billion in funding for Asia-Europe connectivity, agreed at the Global Gateway Investors Forum for EU-Central Asia Transport Connectivity.

Held recently, the forum brought together governments, financing institutions, business and civil society from Europe, Central Asia and beyond. European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis announced that several European and international financial institutions will commit EUR 10 billion to support and invest in sustainable transport connectivity in Central Asia.

For two days participants discussed the investments needed to transform the Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor into a state-of-the-art, multi-modal and efficient route connecting Europe and Central Asia in 15-day journeys.

Asia-Europe connectivity

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has underlined the urgency of finding reliable and efficient alternative trade routes between Europe and Asia that do not transit Russia. As well as opening up new opportunities for business, developing transport connectivity is also a means of strengthening regional integration and economic development in Central Asia. This is why the Investors Forum has focused on transport connections that respect all aspects of sustainability, in line with the Global Gateway’s principles of reliable connectivity.

The EUR 10 billion commitment represents a combination of ongoing and planned investments which, following extensive consultations with international partners present at the Forum, the European Commission expects will be mobilised for sustainable transport development in Central Asia in the short term.

In concrete terms, a number of significant commitments have been made as part of the EUR 10 billion total. These include:

The European Investment Bank (EIB), represented by its Vice-President Teresa Czerwińska, signed Memoranda of Understanding totalling EUR 1.47 billion with the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as with the Development Bank of Kazakhstan. These loans will be made possible thanks to guarantees provided by the European Commission.

EUR 10 billion for Asia-Europe connectivity

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), represented by its Vice President Mark Bowman, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kazakhstan, which will see EUR 1.5 billion worth of investments with projects already in the pipeline for the overall development of transport connectivity in the Central Asia region.

The Investors Forum brings together high-level representatives from the European Commission, EU Member States, Central Asia, as well as the Caucasus countries and Turkey. Other participants include G7 nations, other like-minded countries, financial institutions and the private sector.

The Investors Forum builds on the findings of a study on sustainable transport links between Europe and Central Asia, which was led by the European Commission and carried out by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The study identified 33 physical infrastructure needs and 7 key soft connectivity actions, the implementation of which would significantly enhance the operational efficiency and economic attractiveness of trans-Caspian transport networks. These were presented at the 2nd EU-Central Asia Economic Forum held in May 2023 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Since the publication of the study, the European Commission has been working to operationalise the study’s findings. The EU and its partners, in the Europe Team and beyond, are together mobilising EUR 10 billion. The European Commission is confident that the discussions taking place at the Investors Forum will unlock additional funding for the development of key transport networks in Central Asia.

The EU’s long-standing 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 updated in 2019. The Investors Forum is deepening this collaboration as the EU works decisively to promote the establishment of direct transport links with Central Asia through the Black Sea and Caucasus regions, in full partnership with the Central Asian countries, Turkey, as well as the Eastern Partnership countries, which actively participate in the Investors Forum.

According to the European Commission, “the Global Gateway strategy is the EU’s positive offer to reduce global investment disparities and boost smart, clean and secure connections in the digital, energy and transport sectors, as well as strengthening health, education and research systems. In a ‘Team Europe’ approach, bringing together the European Union, EU Member States and European development finance institutions, we aim to jointly mobilise up to EUR 300 billion in public and private investment over the period 2021-2027, creating critical linkages rather than dependencies, and closing the global investment gap.”

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