Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) marked the successful completion of its five-year regional project on Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs. The project has facilitated exports from Central Asia and increased employment in horticulture, logistics services and tourism industries.
The Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs project has worked in close partnership with tourism associations, national tourism committees and more than 400 private sector entities to promote tourism in Central Asia. For example, social media campaigns, including a special Central Asia edition of WideOyster Travel magazine, generated more than 24 million views worldwide.
As part of this five-year project, USAID helped develop a high-quality 3D panoramic map of tourist sites in the Kyrgyz Republic and other Central Asian countries. USAID also created and published detailed descriptions of 31 new hiking routes, which reached more than one million potential hikers. All of these efforts contributed to Lonely Planet magazine naming Central Asia as the best travel region in the world for January 2020.
Under this project, USAID has invested $1.97 million in 34 projects across Central Asia to help companies increase exports, expand their businesses, and create new jobs. These investments have helped partner companies create 634 new jobs and reach 37 new markets. For example, Ecomarket in the Kyrgyz Republic received new equipment to boost the production of fried beans and chickpeas. This helped the company double its production volume and become one of the largest bean exporters in the country. This expansion has also benefited over 500 farmers who supply beans to Ecomarket.
USAID and its partners organized the Central Asia Trade Forum. The project has helped make the Forum a well-known brand that has attracted more than 16,000 business representatives who are cultivating opportunities and partnerships for greater regional trade. A record number of deals – over $88 million in contracts – were signed at the annual event.
In addition to the Forum, the Competitiveness, Trade and Employment activity established the Transport and Logistics Partnership, an association of 150 of the largest trade unions and private transport and logistics companies in Central Asia. The partnership actively supports private sector advocates to push for government policy reforms to remove trade barriers, improve the movement of goods, enhance regional competitiveness, and increase employment in transport and logistic.
Overall, USAID has worked in the area of regional trade facilitation for 20 years and continues its programs to expand regional cooperation, trade and employment opportunities for the people of Central Asia.