ITC Ready4Trade, OECD Central Asia Invest Projects Showcase Cooperation Achievements 

ASTANA—Two regional Central Asian projects funded by the European Union (EU) showcased their achievements in Almaty on June 26. These initiatives have supported Central Asian countries’ efforts to advance trade reforms, enhance competitiveness, foster connectivity and strengthen regional cooperation.

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According to the EU delegation in Kazakhstan’s press team, the event united policymakers and key stakeholders from Central Asia’s private and public sectors and EU representatives. 

The projects funded by the EU include the International Trade Centre (ITC) Ready4Trade Central Asia and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Policy Component of the European Union (EU) Central Asia Invest Program.

“The EU has long been supporting the governments of Central Asian countries in their business environment and trade and transport connectivity reform efforts with international partners, including ITC and the OECD,” said Kestutis Jankauskas, EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan.

Jankauskas added that they would endeavor with their Central Asian partners to develop the Middle Corridor into a competitive, multimodal and sustainable route connecting Central Asia and Europe. 

“We look forward to the new EU-funded Prosperity Program, which will be implemented by ITC and the OECD to support the implementation of this goal,” he added.

“We are grateful for the OECD’s and ITC’s support for Central Asia’s improved trade and transport connectivity. We look forward to working with them further to make the region more connected and competitive,” said Zhanel Kushukova, Kazakh Vice-Minister of Trade and Integration.

The ITC Ready 4 Trade Central Asia project has enhanced intra-regional and international trade across five Central Asian countries. The project addressed cross-border trade obstacles by simplifying and digitalizing trade procedures, making them more transparent, less costly, and less time-consuming. The project established national small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) Trade Academies, providing tailored on-the-job coaching to enhance SMEs’ capacity to participate in the global market.

The OECD has supported reforms in private sector development, internationalization, digitalization, trade and transport connectivity, and resilience to shocks. Its efforts included a high-level policy dialogue to enhance EU-OECD-Central Asia economic cooperation, share best practices and foster further reform commitment.

Country-level workshops promoted public-private dialogue, data collection, and capacity building. The OECD has also published policy assessments, private sector survey results, and country case studies on good practices. Under the Policy Component of the EU Central Asia Invest Programme, the OECD delivered three in-person ministerial events, four online events, over 65 workshops and 12 analytical publications.

The forthcoming EU Prosperity Programme, to be implemented by ITC and the OECD, is expected to drive further connectivity and economic integration between Central Asia and the EU.

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