Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today encouraged countries in Central Asia and the South Caucasus to diversify their economies and put in place measures that will help ensure the success of their economic and political transitions.
“I encourage the governments of the region to put in place the regulatory frameworks and incentives that will generate smart investments and promote responsible business practices,” Mr. Ban said in a video message to the Silk Road Summit taking place in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The gathering, organized by The Economist, brings together government ministers, business leaders, analysts and experts to address common problems and promote sustainable, equitable development for all in the region.
Mr. Ban noted that the economies of the region have come a long way since the start of the transition process in the early 1990s. However, the global recession of 2008 and 2009 hit them hard – harder than any other region.
“Most economies have now rebounded. But vulnerability remains,” said the Secretary-General.
The region, he pointed out, is still too reliant on one or two major sources of income. Some depend on oil or other natural resources; others on agricultural commodities. Still others rely on remittances from migrant workers.
“The challenge is to diversify,” Mr. Ban stated. “Reduce red tape. Increase agricultural productivity. Invest in education, infrastructure and technology.”
The region is also highly vulnerable to organized crime, he said, noting that often porous borders allow opium, money, chemical precursors, arms and humans to be trafficked with almost total impunity.
“Cooperation within and beyond the region will be crucial in addressing these challenges and ensuring stability and good governance,” said Mr. Ban, adding that the private sector can make an important contribution.