All Caspian countries, without exception, are interested in strengthening regional trade and economic ties. And Turkmenistan here took the initiative in their hands. This was said in an interview with Centralasia.news expert-analyst for Turkmenistan from Uzbekistan Valery Chumakin, commenting on the importance for the Caspian countries of the First Caspian economic forum (Caspian Economic Forum — CEF), which will be held in the National tourist zone "Avaza" in Turkmenistan on August 12 this year. Simultaneously with the forum, international conferences and exhibitions “Innovative technologies of Hazar” and “Turkmen Sahrasy – 2019” are planned.

In this regard, the expert recalled that the initiative to hold an economic forum with the participation of the Caspian countries belongs to Turkmenistan. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov announced this proposal on September 30, 2014 at the IV Summit of the heads of the Caspian States in Astrakhan (Russia). And at the V Summit of the heads of the Caspian States, held on August 12 last year in Aktau (Kazakhstan), proposed the First Caspian economic forum to be held in 2019 in Turkmenistan.

The Turkmen leader said that the five-sided cooperation at sea largely depends on the degree of involvement of riparian countries in economic, trade and transport processes, – said Chumakin.

Noting that Ashgabat has been consistently promoting transport and energy diplomacy in the international arena for the past few years, the expert stressed that the adoption of the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian sea in Aktau last year opened a wide path to the implementation of many energy and transport and transit projects.

Over the years of independence, Turkmenistan has rapidly developed oil and gas production, chemical and processing industries. Created a developed logistics network: built new and reconstructed existing Railways and roads; airports in Ashgabat, Turkmenbashi, Dashoguz and Turkmenabat; international seaport on the Caspian coast. That is, Turkmenistan has export products, for example, mineral fertilizers, polypropylene, oil and gas chemical goods, as well as a perfect transport infrastructure. Now have it all worked well and, of course, makes a profit, – said Chumakin.

According to the expert, the development of regional trade and economic relations, transport and transit corridors will increase the volume of exports of Turkmen goods, including through the Caspian sea to Europe. Turkmenistan participates in the transit and transport project Lazurite corridor, the route of which begins in Afghanistan, through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia reaches Turkey and further to European countries. Turkmenistan along with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania is a participant of the project of creation of the international transport route Caspian sea — Black sea.

The organizers of the forum in the person of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan believe that the site of CEF-2019 will also accelerate the implementation of agreements between the governments of the Caspian States on trade and economic cooperation and cooperation in the field of transport, signed in 2018 in Aktau.

The expert highly appreciated the preparations for the forum conducted by the Turkmen side.

In this regard, Chumakin predicts that the forum will be very representative, as representatives of not only Caspian, but also other countries of Europe and Asia, as well as international economic, financial, transport and environmental organizations are invited to the CEF-2019. The program of the event includes discussions on the role of the economy of the Caspian region in the global context, strengthening the factors of growth of investment attractiveness in the fields of industry, energy, trade, tourism and other sectors of the economies of the Caspian States.

– Everyone who has economic interests in the region was invited to the forum. You can be sure that mutually beneficial business contacts will be formed during the conference and exhibitions, – the expert summed up.