Atlantic Council: CENTRAL ASIA: ISSUES IN REGIONAL TRADE AND INTEGRATION

acus central asia

Christine Cannata

INTRODUCTION
The road toward economic development and integration has been a long one for the five Central Asia economies. The region continues to be dominated by poverty and heavily dependent on remittances.

Some challenges originate from ethnic, political, and border conflicts, while others remain heavily rooted in economic barriers to trade and investment. Foreign investment remains risky, and opportunities for bilateral trade cooperation within Central Asia have not been sufficiently pursued.

Oil and other natural resources have been drivers of economic growth and development for the
countries that have them. Another potential bright light lies in the bazaars along the Central Asian borders. These bazaars boost local cross – border trade and economic growth. Nurturing their larger – scale development through special trade and investment zones in border regions will help break down regional barriers. Real dialogue to foster such cooperation, facilitate business, and remove impediments to trade will help foster economic growth and enable the region achieve its potential as a trans-continental trade partner for Europe, the Far East, and South Asia