Central Asia—Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Activity (CTJ)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2016-2021

Region: Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Country: Regional

Solutions: Economic Growth

A quarter of a century after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian Republics have yet to realize full regional integration or sustained economic growth outside of the oil and gas industries. In addition, state control over business freedoms and rivalries among national governments have led to restrictive trade policies and stifled private sector investment, resulting in a stagnant economy and limited job opportunities. Large segments of the population remain mired in poverty, resulting in migration to find work and vulnerability to recruitment by violent extremist groups.

The U.S. Government’s New Silk Road Initiative is supporting Central Asia to regain its place at the center of renewed trade between the East and West. An integral part of the initiative is the Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs (CTJ) Activity, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), works in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to improve the region’s trade environment, resulting in growth for exports and increased employment.

DAI’s strategy focuses on facilitating the development of competitive, inclusive market systems in the region while ensuring that activities are demand-driven and locally led to increase sustainability. CTJ promotes growth in the agricultural, transport, and logistics sectors by leveraging other USAID investments in the region, including two DAI-managed activities: Uzbekistan Agricultural Value Chains and Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity.

Sample Activities

  • Collaborate with public- and private-sector partners to develop a plan to address regional trade facilitation opportunities and support businesses in complying with regulations and requirements.
  • Work with community influencers to draft local engagement plans to support initiatives related to building facilitation skills, job-readiness, and entrepreneurship.
  • Establish an innovation facility to motivate firms to design and implement solutions to overcome specific market failures related to horticulture, transportation, and border management.

Select Results

  • Organized the Central Asia Trade Forum, an annual event that promotes regional connectivity within Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The 2019 forum brought together more than 800 government and business leaders from countries across Asia, Europe, and the United States in Shymkent, Kazakstan to discuss and share ideas on horticultural innovation and trade investment.
  • Supported seven companies from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to attended the Anuga trade fair in Germany, the largest food and beverage trade fair in the world. The Central Asian companies exhibited their horticultural products together under the “Taste of Central Asia” stand.
  • Conducted a Regional Trade and Transport Forum in Termez, Uzbekistan—co-hosted with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Transport and the Termez City Government and jointly funded with the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program—where delegates agreed to cooperate by signing over $600,000 worth of business deals among counterparts from Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and beyond.
  • Launched an Innovation Facility to incentivize partners to undertake innovative initiatives in the horticulture, transportation and logistics, and tourism sectors to increase their export potential, grow their business, and create jobs.


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