United States, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan Launch New Investment Initiative
On January 7, the United States, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan announced the launch of the Central Asia Investment Partnership, a new initiative to spur private-sector growth and connectivity in the region. The new program will be overseen by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Astana International Finance Centre (AIFC) and will seek to attract at least $1 billion in investment over five years to promote high-quality infrastructure and sustainable development. Though the program is led by the United States, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, the joint announcement invites other countries to join.
Since the Central Asian republics gained independence from the Soviet Union thirty years ago, outside investment has been critical to economic growth. Partnerships between Central Asian governments and multinational companies have helped the region play a prominent role in the hydrocarbon and mining sectors and provided necessary funding for further development projects. Recently, the Chinese led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has injected large sums of investment into Central Asian infrastructure projects. Similarly, the Blue Dot Network (BDN), a joint endeavor between the governments of the United States, Australia, and Japan will look to increase global infrastructure investment by issuing certification for sustainable, high-quality projects.
As a cooperative project between DFC and AIFC, the Central Asia Investment Partnership is well positioned to bring in funding from both U.S. and regional sources. The program’s launch is a heartening sign that the U.S. government is taking the need for infrastructure funding in Central Asia seriously. The United States Strategy for Central Asia 2019-2025 highlighted promoting United States investment in and development of Central Asia as an area that would be a pillar of the U.S. relationship with the region. It is extremally positive to see the United States putting concrete action behind this strategy through the Central Asia Investment Partnership. This follows the September 2020 announcement by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that it would be establishing two new missions in Central Asia, with one in Tajikistan and one in Uzbekistan. These efforts should be seen as encouraging signals of U.S. commitment to its Central Asian partners.
Attracting external investment will be crucial for fueling development in Central Asia. With trusted organizations leading this endeavor, it will be able to solicit funds from sources that might otherwise be unsure of entering an unfamiliar investment climate. The $1 billion that the project aims to bring in could fund invaluable infrastructure improvements and sustainable investments in communities, both of which will benefit Central Asian governments and their people well into the future.