Baku, Azerbaijan (BBN)- The eight countries of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program today agreed on a Trade Policy Strategic Action Plan (TPSAP) to expand trade through regional cooperation.

The central goal of the CAREC Program is development through cooperation, with the objectives of increased economic growth and poverty reduction, expanded and diversified trade, and strengthened capacity for regional cooperation and integration.

The TPSAP builds upon these goals and proposes concrete policy actions intended to increase trade openness to stimulate stronger growth and development; achieve WTO membership for all CAREC countries by the end of 2013; and support capacity building in the area of trade and trade policy, according to a press statement.

The plan was agreed at the 7th Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation, which was attended by Senior Officials and Ministers from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Representatives from six multilateral institutions supporting the CAREC Program also participated, namely Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Program, and World Bank.

The strategic approach of the Action Plan is based on principles of pragmatism and results, which recognize the different circumstances and national priorities of CAREC participating countries, the statement added.

BBN/SI/SS/AD-22November08-1:37 PM (BST)