Astana, Kazakhstan (BBN)- The 10 members of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program will develop key new road and rail routes linking Central Asia to People’s Republic of China (PRC) and South Asia between now and 2020 to realize the huge trade potential between the three regions.

“To increase trade outside the region, CAREC will need to align its corridors to new routes, and develop long distance multimodal transport services combining road and rail,” said Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao, who gave the keynote address at the 12th meeting of CAREC ministers here on Thursday.

The plan endorsed today by the CAREC ministers involves road, rail, logistics, and border facilities projects in priority corridors and requires an investment of $38.8 billion in the coming seven years.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the ministers echoed Mr. Nakao by calling for a more integrated approach to transport and trade. This means improving logistics services to support manufacturing networks, more modern and integrated customs and border controls, and linking roads and railways to key ports.

The members of the CAREC are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, the PRC, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The program, supported by ADB as the secretariat, promotes regional connectivity in trade, transport, and energy to boost economic growth in the region.

BBN/SSR/AD-25Oct13-12:55 pm (BST)