EBRD president visits Turkmenistan

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Sir Suma Chakrabarti visited Turkmenistan on 23 May, as part of a trip to three Caspian states – Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

During the one-day visit – which was his first visit to the country and the first visit by an EBRD President to Turkmenistan since 2008 – President Chakrabarti met the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. He also met a number of deputy prime ministers, and officials from the National Bank of Turkmenistan. In addition, Sir Suma visited a private sector enterprise which is an EBRD client, the EBRD Press Office said.

The EBRD President and the President of Turkmenistan had a lengthy discussion on a number of issues, in particular the need to continue strengthening the non-oil and gas private sector as oil prices remained low. The key topic was an increase in cooperation and investment, in parallel with the further intensification of market reforms. The two presidents discussed the need to provide local currency lending to private sector small and medium-sized enterprises to reduce their foreign exchange risk. They discussed the EBRD’s willingness to finance public utilities in Turkmenistan and to support reforms that are under way in the sector, with help from an international consultant engaged by the EBRD who has identified priority areas. Sir Suma stressed that the EBRD is interested in supporting Turkmenistan’s efforts under the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Initiative to reduce petroleum gas flaring which is one of the major ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They also discussed the security and energy situation in the region. President Berdimuhamedov reiterated the importance of possible EBRD participation in TAPI, a pipeline to bring Turkmen gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

President Berdymukhammedov invited the EBRD to participate in a UN conference on transport and transit corridors in Turkmenistan in November.

During the visit, President Chakrabarti signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the EBRD and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan which calls for increased cooperation to support the private sector.

The EBRD President and the delegation also visited Ak Gap, a privately owned company on the outskirts of Ashgabat, which produces polyethylene terephthalate (PET) preforms and plastic caps used for the bottling of soft drinks by other private sector companies in the country, many of which are also EBRD clients. The EBRD has cooperated with Ak Gap by providing financing and consultancy services through its agribusiness advisory team.

To date, the EBRD has invested €230 million in 53 projects in Turkmenistan.

Sergey Kwan

TCA