Regional Economic Cooperation Project

Counterparts: Businesses from Central Asia and Afghanistan; trade-related public/private organizations; women-owned textile businesses, and VolVis graduates

Duration: September 2011 - March 2015

Budget: Kyrgyzstan: $222, 432

Implementing Partner: Chemonics International 

Project Mission

USAID’s Regional Economic Cooperation Project (REC) helps Central Asian and Afghan firms trade by facilitating partnerships, training, and promoting an improved environment for trade.

Project Objectives

REC facilitates trade among Central Asian countries, Afghanistan, as well as with other large trading partners. Through capacity building initiatives and gender integration strategies, REC expands firms’ export potential, while building business network connections in the region. REC also works towards improving Central Asian countries’ pro-trade policies and procedures, increasing transport corridor performance, assisting Tajikistan in its WTO accession efforts, and strengthening the capacity of trade promotion agencies.

Situation and Solution

Central Asian countries and Afghanistan face constraints to cross-border trade, both firm-level and environmental. Increasing trade can spur the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, critical for Central Asia to diversify its economies. With assistance, Central Asia can emerge as a commercial lifeline for Afghanistan by increasingly participating in global trade.

USAID’s REC Project undertakes a range of trade facilitation activities within its six components:

  • Strengthening Export Partnership Groups (EPG) and encouraging the creation of new EPGs. USAID’s previous regional trade project developed EPGs composed of firms from Central Asia. REC continues to build and reinforce these networks and cultivates new groups so that participating firms increase their exports. Training and networking occur through the EPG model. Through its grants program, the Project will strengthen women-owned textile businesses in Central Asia, facilitate their participation in international supply chains and increase their exports.
  • Evaluating the export potential of Kazakhstani and Uzbek firms and industries through market research. REC provides technical assistance to exporters from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan through market research. REC addresses export capacity shortcomings, identifies formal and informal barriers to trade, and proposes solutions.
  • Supporting exporters from Central Asia when supplying goods to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for use in Afghanistan and testing the barriers to export. REC selects at least three firms in Uzbekistan and one in Kazakhstan with the potential to supply to the DOD, and provides support to these firms in exporting their goods/services. REC is preparing practical guides explaining how to export to the US DOD in Afghanistan from Central Asia.
  • Supporting graduates of the State Department’s summer 2012 Voluntary Visitors Program through organizing workshops, awarding and managing grants Program. REC organized and facilitated meetings of women's business associations and representatives from other NGOs at the Central Asian Trade Forum in September 2012. Participants will develop small grant proposals aimed at improving their businesses and increasing exports.
  • Assisting Tajikistan in WTO Accession. REC will help Tajikistan to continue developing laws and regulations to help them comply with the WTO agreements and thus make accession possible.
  • Helping Central Asian countries implement pro-trade policies, regulations and processes. REC will consult and partner with national and regional businesses, NGOs, and other trade related organizations to determine the status of trade facilitation, trade policy, and transport corridor performance, and create national and regional action plans to facilitate and improve trade, trade policy and transport corridor activities in Central Asia and Afghanistan.