Statement at the Second Session of the Arab Economic and Cooperation Forum with Central Asia and Azerbaijan
Your Excellency Ahmed Aboul Gheit,
Secretary General of the League of Arab States!
At the outset I would like to welcome you to the ancient land of Tajik people and wish good luck to this Forum.
The First Session of the Arab Cooperation and Economic Forum with Central Asia and Azerbaijan was held three years ago in Riyadh and it adopted the Riyadh Declaration.
Alongside with this, Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the Arab League and Central Asia and Azerbaijan and a separate document of cooperation between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Arab League was signed.
These documents strengthen the foundation of our cooperation and determine the prospect of boosting relations, objecctives and areas of partnership.
We believe the establishment of this Forum is of particular importance as an important cooperation tool.
This Session of the brand new Forum is being held for the first time in Central Asia, which was known as Movarounnahr in the past. Historically important trends formulated in this ancient area, which later promoted the development of Islam civilization and expansion of research, cultural and commercial ties between various regions.
It is impossible to imagine the Islamic culture and civilization without recalling Abu ali ibni Sino (Avicenna), Abunasri Forobi, Aburayhon Beruni, Muhammadi Khorazmi and dozens of other celebrities. These noble sons of Movarounnahr decently contributed to the enrichment of the human civilization and progress of the global science.
In this regard, I believe that our Forum today will create a favorable environment for revival of those linkages, expansion of relations in various areas and for the prosperity of our regions and countries.
We consider the Arab countries among our important partners at the international stage and continuously attach a particular importance to development and strengthening of good relations with them.
It is not secret that we can promote any constructive initiative only in peace and security based environment. Accordingly, we think that fullfledged peace and security in the Arab countries is the key factor for development of Islamic countries.
Tajikistan is internationally for peaceful and fair solution to all conflicts and crises taking place in some Islamic countries.
Tajikistan during its indepence established good bilateral and multilateral relations with the majority countries of the Islamic world and we are pleased with the level and content of these relations.
Currently our cooperation with the arab countries have been developing and expanding and we have been continuously improving the legal framework of our bilateral ties. We enjoy constant politicial dialogue and exchange of high level official visits.
However, I have to note that we do not have appropriate commercial, economic and investment cooperation in place yet.
Currently, the share of arab countries in Tajikistan’s overall trade makes only 1,5% while we constantly encourage and call on arab countries for wider economic presence and proactive participation in investment and joint use of abundant resources of Tajikistan.
We observe that the majority of advanced arab countries mostly focus on trade and investment in the western countries. Alongside with this, our states, including Tajikistan have great cooperation potential in various areas, which we can jointly use with the arab countries by taking into account our mutually beneficial interests.
In my capacity of the President of Tajikistan, I raised these points several times during my meetings with the Leadership and different delegations of arab countries both at the bilateral level and within international organzations.
It is obvious that one of the influential factors for development of economic and commercial ties is ensuring transparent and favorable environment for investment and entrepreneurship. Tajikistan has been continuously undertaking measures to create such an environment.
For this purpose, we brough the majority of our legal and regulatory documents on trade and economy in line with international standards and this process is ongoing. Our legislation offers more than 70 preferences for investment and 240 tax benefits with a view to improving the investment climate. It also ensures equal rights of domestic and foreign investors, avoids restrictions of investors’ rights, interference of public authorities into the investment operations and legal protection of investors’ interests.
The communities of entrepreneurs and investors from arab countries can avail the above-mentioned opportunities and preferences to establish constructive cooperation with their Tajik public and private counterparts as reliable partners in various areas.
Tajikistan’s abundant natural resources and unique nature can serve as the source of substantive profit for arab investors.
With a view to creating more favorable environment for sustainable socio-economic development we adopted National Development Strategy to 2030 a while ago, which reflects our strategic objectives.
The core of this document is industrialization of our country and it prioritizes the effective operation of the real sectors of economy, human development and diversification of production.
Therefore, attracting direct investments and the latest technologies for effective use of Tajikistan’s huge hydropower resources, turning it into a transit country and ensuring high level of public living standards as well as expansion of public employment in the production sector are among our priorities.
Implementation of important promising projects on production infrastructure, including regional projects in hydropower, infrastructure, industry, metal processing, agriculture and other real sectors of economy can serve as the basis for our fruitful cooperation.
Tajikistan has huge untapped hydropower potential and it is ranked as the 6th country of the world in terms of generation of green energy with the use of renewable sources. The use of these resources is an important source of green economy formulation and effective management of other pillars, including water resources and environment can ensure sustainable development. We are keen to use these resources for the benefit of our country and the entire region. The Government of Tajikistan has been continuously undertaking measures in this regard.
The World Economic Forum defined the competitiveness of 137 countries of the world on the basis of various economic indicators a while ago. It ranked Tajikistan as the 70th country in terms of road quality and infrastructure development, which is a good indicator for our region.
So far we constructed and launched more than 2 000km of highways, 190km of railroad and more than 30km of ground tunnels. Alongside with this, we pay an utmost attention to development and implementation of joint regional infrastructure projects and we are interested in establishment of hubs.
Our objective from implementation of these projects is to expand transit capacity of the region via establishing transport corridors towards the South and East Asia and creating border terminals and logictic centres according to international standards.
So far arab financial institutions like the Saudi Development Fund, Kuweit Development Fund, Abu Dhabi Development Fund and others contributed to implementation of a number of essential projects in Tajikistan. However, compared to the investments of other countries this is very small amount.
Tajikistan has abundant opportunities for investment in industry and minerals processing. We have more than 600 deposits of mineral and nonmineral natural resources, which are prepared for exploration and processing. We have all types of precious stones and metals and raw material, exploration and processing of which is a good opportunity for beneficial economic cooperation.
The agriculture as one of the important strategic sectors of the Tajik economy has a significant input in the country’s GDP and protection of public food security as well as supply of industry with raw materials. The climate of Tajikistan, which is favorable for agriculture, makes it possible to get up to four harvests of ecologically clean crops every year.
Alongside with this, Tajikistan’s fresh water as its main natural resource highlights the importance of the country and our country is among the leading countries of the world in terms of water resources. It has 13 000 glaciors and about 1000 rivers, which serve as the source of generation of almost 60% of water resources of Central Asia. This invaluable wealth can meet the demand for drinking water not only in the countries of our region, but also the demand of other needy countries suffering from the scarcity of water resources.
Given these factors, implementation of joint projects on processing of agricultural products, particularly fruits and vegetables and cotton fiber, also export of drinking water would be economically profitable. We stand ready to ensure constructive and beneficial cooperation with all stakeholders in the above-mentioned areas.
We are also interested in having wider cooperation on tourism with the arab countries. Tajikistan thanks to its favorable climate, beautiful nature, extremely high mountaints, healing waters and unique historical and cultural heritage has a great tourism opportunity. In this context, our country has sufficient capacity for development of eco-tourism, healthcare and recreational tourism, mountaineering as well as hunting.
We also introduced a number of benefits and prefences for tourism business. Thus, the import of equipment and materials for development of tourism infrastructure is released from customs duty and tourism companies are released from VAT during the first five years of their operation. In addition to this, we introduced electronic visa system and simplified visa regime for citizens of 80 countries of the world.
Arab entrepreneurs and investors can proactively contribute to development of tourism infrastructure and its promising subsectors within our public programs based on the interests of both parties. In this context, launching direct flights between our countries will promote not only movement of tourists, but also expand our people-to-people, trade and cultural ties.
Common history and culture of our peoples created a favorable environment for strengthening and expansion of cooperation in various areas. We only need to effectively avail these common features for the sake of development of our societies, peace and stability and prosperity of our countries.
Having highlighted the importance of shifting to practical steps following several meetings and consultations, I hope that this trend will bring positive outcomes acceptable to all parties.
Tajikistan highly appreciates the role regular dialogues, exchange of visits, political cooperation and harmonization of positions within international and regional events in the process of cooperation development. It is my firm belief that this meeting today will be the start of new ideas and implementation of new projects on further expansion of cooperation for the benefit of our peoples.
I wish you all good luck in this Forum.