New York: On September 23, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev participated in the high-level meetings and the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly and put forward a number of important initiatives. One of them is the establishment of a Regional Centre for the Development of Transport and Communications under the auspices of the UN.
First of all, it is worth noting that the President’s proposals are aimed at enhancing Central Asia’s transport, communication and transit capacity with the involvement, foremost, of the countries of the region itself as well as international organizations, particularly of the UN.
Indeed, given the importance and relevance of the development of Central Asia as a single region, President Mirziyoyev, from the beginning of his presidency, outlined the pursuit of a proactive regional policy, the creation of a favourable political environment in Central Asia, the building of constructive and mutually beneficial relations with the countries of the region in all areas as the main priorities of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy.
Thanks to the intensified dialogue and interactions in Central Asia, a new political atmosphere was created in a very short period of time after early 2017, an atmosphere which favours comprehensive and multifaceted cooperation in the region. And, the whole global community recognizes the positive dynamics in the region today.
Today, one of the important challenges facing the countries of Central Asia is the creation of conditions for the transportation of goods through their territories. It primarily implies the need for the modernization of transport infrastructure and creation of logistical services that would be able to compete with sea transport, in terms of speed and cost-efficiency.
Moreover, there is a number of problems within the transport and transit system of Central Asia, addressing which requires consolidation of efforts by all countries of the region. For instance, today, the states of the region, which have no direct access to seaports, are bearing significant transportation costs, reaching up to 70-80 percent of the value of exported products. Up to 40 percent of the time spent on transportation is due to inefficient customs clearance procedures. Additionally, the circularity of the regional transportation system, coupled with lack of flexible tariff policies as well as complicated customs and administrative procedures pose substantial challenges requiring immediate attention.
It is well known that connectivity is the key factor in the development of trade and economic relations of India with the countries of Central Asia. India has invested in Chabahar Port in Iran, which will serve as a gateway to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Eurasia. Like Uzbekistan, India is also a significant stakeholder in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. Uzbekistan is also a stakeholder in improving connectivity with Iran. In this area, Uzbekistan and India are playing corresponding roles. Uzbekistan played an active role in making India a part of the Ashgabat Agreement, establishing an international transport and transit corridor to which India was admitted in 2018. The corridor is expected to smooth the transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. India expects it to function as a gateway to Central Asia in addition to Chabahar Port.
Thus, establishment of a Regional Centre for the Development of Transport and Communications under the auspices of the UN will not only promote regional cooperation, but also foster international cooperation with the UN’s participation, its specialized agencies and foreign countries.