XINJIANG AND ITS ROLE IN GREATER CENTRAL ASIAN REGIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Dr. Robert Guang TIAN


Robert Guang Tian, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Medaille College (Buffalo, NY, U.S.)


Introduction

The Central Asia region mainly consists of the five Central Asian republics, namely Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The region is located in the center of the Eurasian continent. It borders to the north on the Russian Federation, to the south on Iran and Afghanistan, and to the east on the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Mongolia lies in the upper portion of the PRC; while Azerbaijan, a member of the Caucasus, lies to the west of the region near Turkmenistan.

Regional economic cooperation in Greater Central Asia started relatively late due to the all-year-round war in Afghanistan and the regional conflicts in Central Asia after its countries gained their independence. Since the 1990s the Central Asian countries have shown great interest in regional economic cooperation and established certain mechanisms. Regional cooperation started with the five Central Asian countries signing the Agreement on Economic, Scientific-Technological, and Cultural Cooperation and developed into the establishment of the Central Asia Cooperative Organization in 2002. But generally speaking, these agreements have no substantial content and the efforts exerted in regional cooperation have resulted in few achievements.

In recent years, as the war in Afghanistan subsided and economic development in Central Asia gained momentum, Greater Central Asian regional economic cooperation became a hot topic. According to the statistics of the Asian Development Bank, there are more than 20 regional cooperative development projects and programs in Central Asia for 2005-2008. The sponsor countries and international organizations include ADBAsian Development Bank, CACOCentral Asia Cooperation Organization, CARECCentral Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, CARECUCentral Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Unit, CMERFCAREC Members Electricity Regulators Forum, EBRDEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development, ICTinformation and communications technology, IMFInternational Monetary Fund, MDGsMillennium Development Goals, MImultilateral institution, OIFoverall institutional framework, PRCPeoples Republic of China, RBRregional business roundtable, RCSPregional cooperation strategy and program, RCSPUregional cooperation strategy and program update, RETAregional technical assistance, SCOShanghai Cooperation Organization, SOMsenior officials meeting, TAtechnical assistance, TIRTransports Internationaux Routiers, and TPCCTrade Policy Coordinating Committee. These cooperation mechanisms have different targets, different scopes of


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