The European Investment Bank (EIB) has pledged to focus on sustainable connectivity and climate-neutral growth models in Central Asia, according to a recent statement by the bank. The EIB has established a rapidly growing portfolio of approved projects in the region worth around €1 billion, with €863 million of loans already signed.
In an effort to align with the European Global Gateway strategy, the EIB will prioritise the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, or Middle Corridor, for sustainable connectivity operations. These operations will complement the EIB’s substantial support for the East-West corridor in South Caucasus.
The bank’s support for the EU’s priorities in Central Asia is evident, with 58% of the EIB’s projects in the region being in the public sector, and 42% in the private sector. These projects have been aligned with the EU’s 2020 Strategy on Central Asia and, more recently, the EU Global Gateway strategy. The EIB also co-finances projects with other financial institutions.
The EIB’s cooperation with Central Asian countries has been growing since it first began operations in Tajikistan in 2011. The bank has since expanded its operations to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
While the EIB is making significant strides in the region, there is still some ground to cover to compete with China. In Kazakhstan, for example, China has already completed projects worth an estimated €4.5 billion, with a planned total investment of €21 billion under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Similarly, BRI projects in Kyrgyzstan are valued at around €2.2 billion, with €1 billion in Tajikistan and €4 billion in Uzbekistan. These projects have typically been green energy-related, such as wind farms, with significant investments in road and rail infrastructure.
The EIB’s focus on sustainable connectivity and climate-neutral growth models in Central Asia is an important step towards strengthening economic ties between the region and the European Union. While China has already established a significant presence in the area, the EIB’s efforts to promote sustainable development and long-term growth offer an alternative path for Central Asian countries.
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