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Germany plans to expand rail links to Central Asia

The Central Asian countries and Germany are keen to strengthen trade co-operation and possibly expand rail links. Earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attended a meeting with the heads of five Central Asian countries. The leaders discussed financing infrastructure projects and other forms of synergy.

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov, Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, attended the summit meeting.

The leaders of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan discussed with Scholz the financing of infrastructure projects in the Middle Corridor under the Global Gateway initiative. As a result of the meeting, it was agreed that the parties will try to attract investments from the European instrument of international financing and use them to improve transport links between Central Asia and Central Europe.

However, it is not yet reliably known what these projects will be. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) believes that linking the two regions is feasible, subject to the necessary investments, which have also been partially or fully identified.

The EU’s Global Gateway initiative was frequently mentioned in the negotiations. This may be an indication that Germany is planning to finance the region, given that the country is also in the process of diversifying its supply chains, and Central Asian markets will play an important role in this process.

During the leaders’ meeting, Germany and Kazakhstan expanded the range of existing co-operation with plans for the future. For example, DB Engineering & Consulting, a subsidiary of DB, will continue its close cooperation with Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) and provide consulting services for another three years. The cooperation will develop best practices for the development of rail freight traffic between Germany and Kazakhstan, increase traffic volumes and integrate KTZ into European railway standards.

According to the officials, a second summit meeting of the German chancellor and the Central Asian leaders will be held next year in the region.

The European Silk Road Summit 2023 will continue discussions on the Middle Corridor and its linkages with the Silk Road. The 7th European Silk Road Summit 2023 will take place on 29-30 November and 1 December 2023 in Budapest, Hungary.

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