SPECA Is an Institutional Cooperation Format

SPECA Is an Institutional Cooperation Format

By Mr. Vugar Bayramov, Member of the Parliament of Azerbaijan.

A Summit dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asian Countries – SPECA was held in Baku, last week. Presidents and other high-level officials of the countries that are members of the Program took part in the summit. The UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asian Countries was established in 1998. The member states of the program are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The purpose of the program is to support the development of cooperation between member states and integration into the world economy.

Azerbaijan became a member of the Program at the 4th session of the Regional Consultative Committee held in Bishkek on November 28-29, 2002. In 2006, the 1st meeting of the Program Management Council and the Business Forum were held in Baku. On December 1-2, 2010, a Ministerial Meeting was held in Baku on the initiative to join the Aid to Trade mechanism put forward by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development in 2007. In 2023, SPECA are chaired by the Republic of Azerbaijan. This year, the chairmanship of SPECA passed from Azerbaijan to Tajikistan. The next 19th SPECA summit will be held next year in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. If we look at the list of the countries covered by the program and their geographical location, we will see that Azerbaijan has been carrying out multifaceted activities in the direction of further development of cooperation with these countries, especially in recent years. Azerbaijan attaches special importance to cooperation with Central Asian countries. Another factor that shows the intensification of Azerbaijan’s relations with the countries located in this region is related to the visits of heads of states to the region. In the last two years, President Ilham Aliyev has made more than 10 visits to Central Asian countries.  Active dynamics of mutual visits continues. Another direction of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the states of the region is mutual trade and investments. There is a continuous increase in the indicators in these two directions.

Azerbaijan plays an important role in the development of economic relations between Central Asian countries and Europe. Azerbaijan’s trade turnover with Central Asian countries has increased more than 3 times.  Of course, Azerbaijan also plays an important role in the development of economic relations between Central Asian countries and Europe.  Without Azerbaijan, the access of the countries of this region to Europe might be very challenging. The location of Azerbaijan at the junction of East and West and North and South provides it with convenient transit opportunities. Because the roads from East to West pass through the territory of Azerbaijan. The role of the Middle Corridor should be emphasized here. The Middle Corridor covers a wide area, starting from the China-Kazakhstan border, through the countries of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea, and then through the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to Europe. The Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor, considered the shortest and most convenient route connecting Europe and Asia, promises great advantages in cargo transportation from China to Turkey, and from there to European countries and vice versa. Trains moving along this corridor deliver goods from China to Europe in an average of 20-25 days. Also, Azerbaijan and Central Asian states have created joint investment funds. The volume of mutual investments over 1 billion dollars was agreed for the next 3 years. Numerous projects are implemented in the fields of industrial cooperation, machine building, automobile industry, shipbuilding, agriculture, especially cotton, sericulture, horticulture and animal husbandry. Implementation of new investment projects in a number of other areas has begun. At the same time, companies from Central Asia are showing interest in the Tool Free Economic Zone established in Azerbaijan.

Cooperation between Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries, including other Turkic states, has been deepening in recent years. According to the deputy, in practice, SPECA is an institutional cooperation format from this point of view. The SPECA format makes it possible to accelerate the expansion and integration of commercial and economic relations between countries. Azerbaijan has a successful model of cooperation with Central Asian countries. On the one hand, Azerbaijan and the mentioned countries A sharp increase in foreign trade turnover has been observed in recent years. On the other hand, we are also observing mutual investments between Azerbaijan and those countries, including cooperation in the humanitarian field. This should be evaluated as a result of the stability in the Turkic countries and the implemented independent policy. The Caspian Sea does not separate Azerbaijan and Central Asia , on the contrary, unites the Caspian littoral countries, especially the Central Asian states