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ISRS Expert: UTC Countries Need to Coordinate Their Actions, Expand and Deepen the Entire Range of Multilateral Contacts

Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) – On September 28, First Deputy Director of the Institute of Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Akramjon Nematov took part in the 9th Meeting of official foreign policy research centers of member and observer countries of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) on the topic “ Cooperation of Turkic states: building bridges and dialogue in a turbulent world.”

The Secretary General of the UTC, deputies of the Majlis of the Republic of Kazakhstan, heads and experts of leading analytical centers of member countries and observers of the UTC, as well as professors, teachers, and students of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan took part in its work.

Speaking at the plenary session on the topic “Cooperation of Turkic countries in an era of mistrust: analysis of the regional model,” First Deputy Director of ISMR Akramjon Nematov noted the importance of a thorough dialogue between think tanks.

According to the expert, this is especially necessary today when, due to the aggravation of geopolitical confrontation, the norms and principles of international law are ignored, the role of global security institutions is weakened, which leads to a decrease in trust and increased unpredictability in the system of international relations, resuscitation and the emergence of new conflict centers.

“This, in turn, destabilizes world markets, provokes disruption of production and logistics chains and an outflow of investment from developing countries. Apparently, the world is just entering an acute phase of transformation of the international order, which will be protracted,” noted Akramjon Nematov.

In these conditions, he emphasized the need to use the entire existing potential of multilateral cooperation within the framework of the UTC in order to ensure the stability of the Organization’s countries in the face of internal and external challenges to stability and security.

In his opinion, it is necessary to achieve a strategic breakthrough in the economic direction, transform the UTC territory into a space of new economic opportunities, strengthen interconnectedness, and develop cooperation in the areas of trade, transport and industrial cooperation.

According to the ISMI representative, a review of the last ten years shows that the total GDP of the UTC countries is growing, as well as foreign trade turnover. However, while the countries’ GDP grew by only 10%, the population in our countries increased by 15%. Also, although foreign trade turnover has increased by 40%, this is mainly due to imports, which are increasing twice as fast as exports.

In general, over ten years the trade deficit has increased 16 times and imports account for more than 50% of the foreign trade of our countries. This speaks to the need to develop industrial cooperation in our countries and increase domestic trade, which today accounts for only 6% of total foreign trade turnover.

“In addition, the majority of the Organization’s members suffer from dependence on raw materials, a low level of economic diversification and foreign trade partners. We could overcome these problems by stimulating domestic trade and the development of industrial cooperation, mutual investments, which account for only 3% of the total direct investment of the UTC countries. Moreover, it is important to strengthen the transport and logistics interconnectedness of our countries, to develop, first of all, the Middle Corridor, which, although it has increased cargo transportation by 3 times from 2021 to 2022, is only 15% of its potential,” the expert explained.

According to the ISMI representative, today it is important to concentrate on organizing the activities of the Investment Fund and the OTG Development Bank, which were initiated by the President of Uzbekistan. Moreover, it is necessary to stimulate trade and industrial cooperation.

For this purpose, the importance of launching the activities of the Research Center for Trade Cooperation of UTC and centers of engineering and technology on the basis of specialized institutions existing in the member states of the Organization was noted. The need to ensure the practical implementation of the Joint Road Map, adopted in order to implement the Transport Connectivity Program initiated by Uzbekistan, was also emphasized.

These measures, according to Akramjon Nematov, will make it possible to transform the UTG space into an important link in trans-regional interconnectedness and global production and logistics chains. It is necessary to keep the UTC space open for cooperation with third countries, and not allow it to transform into a bloc association, which will hinder its sustainable development. Such a prospect will help increase the added value of the economies of the Organization countries, making them an integral part of world economic relations.

For this, he is convinced, a number of favorable conditions are being formed.

The first, the expert pointed out, is the situation in Central Asia. The latest Consultative Meeting of Heads of State in Dushanbe showed that Central Asia is already a more consolidated region. There is a solid political will to continue to deepen multifaceted regional cooperation.

In particular, during the above-mentioned meeting, the Central Asian countries demonstrated a strong determination to deepen cooperation in the areas of industrial cooperation, energy and transport, and establish a new economic dialogue and interconnectedness in the region.

Second, the ISMR representative emphasized, the dynamics of regional cooperation significantly increases the geostrategic importance of Central Asia and the interest of leading powers in building up partnerships with this region.

This, as he emphasized, is evidenced by the establishment of more than 10 “Central Asia Plus” formats. Recently, another meeting within the framework of the “Central Asia + USA” format was held in New York; the “Central Asia + Germany” summit was held for the first time in Berlin, which became the eleventh format.

According to the expert, Central Asia is perceived as a promising, capacious and interconnected market. As a result, its investment attractiveness increases. In particular, from 2016 to 2022, the share of investments in Central Asia from the total volume in the world increased from 1.6% to 2.8%, increasing to 40 billion in 2022, and in general by 45% since 2016 from the total volume of accumulated investments is 250 billion.

That is, explained Akramjon Nematov, as the President of Uzbekistan said at the fifth Consultative Meeting, “our region is becoming one of the important centers of economic growth and investment activity, once again regaining its historical role as a transport hub connecting West with East and North with South.”

In this context, the expert emphasized, today Central Asia and the vast UTG macro-region as a whole are key links in global transport and logistics initiatives promoted by the leading countries of the world.

China, through its Belt and Road Initiative, is already investing heavily to secure vital transport links. This contributes to infrastructure modernization, development of energy potential and unlocking the transit capabilities of Central Asian states.

As the ISMI representative noted, other leading countries are making similar proposals. In 2021, the United States announced the launch of a new global initiative, Build Back Better World, aimed at creating $40 trillion in infrastructure in developing countries by 2035.

The European Union in December of the same year announced the launch of its own Global Gateway initiative, which was proclaimed as a plan to mobilize up to 300 billion euros of public and private funds between 2022 and 2027 for infrastructure development in countries around the world.

Such projects, Akramjon Nematov especially emphasized, serve

as the next “window of opportunity” for all states of the Turkic world. If they are practically implemented, he explained, we should expect an additional influx of investments and financial injections, incl. in OTG, and, as a result, new opportunities to improve the existing infrastructure. “In this regard, we need to coordinate all these initiatives in the name of general security and sustainable development of all UTG countries,” the expert said.

“We are also interested in Central Asia remaining open and maintaining its role as an inclusive platform for cooperation. This is the key to prosperity. As the President of Uzbekistan noted at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, “the openness of Central Asia to the whole world is becoming the most important condition for ensuring the security and sustainable development of the region,” added the ISMR representative.

Third, Akramjon Nematov pointed out, with the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in Karabakh, new prospects are opening up. This will be an important condition for establishing long-term peace and ending the era of territorial claims in the South Caucasus region, which serves as a key link in the trans-regional connectivity promoted by the Turkic countries. This region also plays the role of a guarantor of energy security of the Turkic world.

In this regard, the deputy director of ISRS emphasized, today it is necessary to use all available political and diplomatic means in order to achieve lasting stability, the establishment of an atmosphere of good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation in the South Caucasus, and the peaceful reintegration of Karabakh into Azerbaijan. According to him, Turkic countries can play an important role in this matter. They could make their contribution to the post-conflict restoration of Karabakh.

In the context of this, the expert said, it is important to understand that the implementation of the goals of uniting all parts of the Turkic space with reliable transport networks is impossible without involving the South Caucasus in this process and establishing lasting stability in the region.

As a result, the integrity of the Turkic world will be significantly strengthened.

All of the above plans, Akramjon Nematov is convinced, require close interaction at all levels with a strategic understanding of the importance of today’s cooperation.

“We must coordinate our actions in the external arena, provide mutual support in strengthening the atmosphere of trust, comprehensively expand and deepen the weight

Source: UZ Daily