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Filed under: Development Poverty Social inclusion

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>> See how Aid for Trade is working to improve human development through trade and private sector development in Central Asia

We are excited to announce that we are publishing a new paper today on trade and human development in Central Asia in both English and Russian!

We believe the ideas and recommendations of the paper have the potential to influence major policy discussions within the five countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) – as well as shape how international organizations see trade and integration processes in the region.

The challenge: How do we ensure that the ideas in the paper don’t just remain there, but are discussed, developed, and ultimately affect policies throughout the region?

How do we ensure that policy makers come into contact with them and incorporate them into their own frameworks and recommendations?

Two key arguments

1. What does the report say?

It makes two fundamental points:

The first concerns Eurasian integration – a somewhat controversial idea at the moment.

In this paper we argue for reconceptualising Eurasian integration in Central Asia not as an element of East-West conflict, but as a development project in Central Asia with the potential to directly improve the lives of millions.

The second argument is about the commodity composition of exports coming from Central Asia.

All five Central Asian countries export predominantly natural resource-based products, such as energy, cotton and metals. These exports are capital intensive, thus there are not so many jobs to go around. And they impose heavy burdens on fragile ecosystems.

However, there is potential for the development of more labour-intensive exports: textiles, food processing, trade and tourism. With somewhat different policies, these sectors could grow and employ more people – especially women and those living in border communities.

Plus, by further developing the service sector, such policies would reduce trade-related ecological burdens and promote transitions to green economies.

Now we want to ensure that these ideas achieve higher visibility and levels of engagement.

2. What are we doing?

First, moving beyond the big paper, we have produced 500-word web-friendly pieces that are serving as base content for publishing on platforms in Russia and Central Asia.

Our goal with this web content is not to have the last word, but to start useful and fruitful discussions, particularly in the media, among bloggers, and within our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

Furthermore, we have produced a video in which key players involved in the paper give a brief overview of what they see as critical. The goal is to help those who don’t have the time to read the whole paper glean the main messages.

What is more, we will be holding three events: one in in Kyrgyzstan today, one in Tajikistan later in the month, and one in Uzbekistan in May. These events will bring together key policymakers and practitioners from the region and beyond to discuss what possibilities exist for bringing policies forward to ensure that more people in the region benefit from development.

What do you think?

Check out the paper below. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve our outreach and better connect with relevant ongoing conversations?