Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Central Asia, Regional Economic Integration and evolving geopolitical Significance

Central Asia has vast stores of energy and natural resources. But to achieve a brighter future the region must pursue economic integration. Sustainable stability, economic growth, trust building and viable friendly relations among the neighboring countries can contribute to effective bilateral cooperation in the region. The regional countries shall work on developing a system to create conducive trade conditions, extending joint markets, improve transportation infrastructure, strengthening investment and encouraging the regional and international entrepreneurs and commercial associations to take part in the economic opportunities of the Central Asia.  Central Asia has more than 70 million populations and more that 5 percent annual economic growth rate that is considered as a big regional market. It also can play a vital role in international development initiatives such as One Belt and Road Initiative. 
Central Asia can play an important role in international crises including food security, access to clean water and preserving water resources.
It is amazing that the Central Asian countries pursue their own economic model in order to align themselves with the world economic convergence and regional economic integration.
Central Asia’s impressive growth
Central Asian countries have achieved impressive economic results with relatively high growth rates over the last ten years based on natural resources underpinned by rising global prices for those exports. The reason for the high growth rates: Central Asia became attractive to the EU and the US, as well as other Western countries and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as providers of energy and natural resources. 
Regional integration initiatives
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has, apart from the PRC and Russia, only member states from Central Asia, excluding Turkmenistan.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an economic union of states located in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe. The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union was signed on 29 May 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, and came into force on 1 January 2015. Treaties aiming for Armenia’s and Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union were signed on 9 October and 23 December 2014, respectively. Armenia’s accession treaty came into force on 2 January 2015. Kyrgyzstan’s accession treaty came into effect on 6 August 2015. It participated in the EAEU from the day of its establishment as an acceding state.
Geopolitical Trends
Russian foothold within the region in the region is already facilitated under a series of organizations (Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), and the Customs Union Commission (CUC)) which allows them to cement political, economic and security ties with Central Asia. Similarly, USA and China have also made critical overtures to the Central Asian states. For the USA, these untapped markets are critical for economically recovering post-war Afghanistan; aiming towards enhancing its security and economic ties with Central Asian states. Thus, it is highly likely that the geopolitical significance of Central Asia will persist in the current political dimensions. In this regard, the global powers are clearly defining the geopolitical and geo-economic interests in the region and powerfully seeking towards spreading and maintaining their influence in Central Asia. Yet, how the Central Asian states tackle via their diplomacy remains the most interesting factor.
Central Asia enjoys vast natural resources. Central Asia plays a vital geopolitical role in the region and has the potential to change to a powerful regional player. Regional Economic Integration not only can unify the region but also can support the aim of Central Asian governments, neighboring countries, and international partners to bolster the region against destabilization from a broader invasion of extremism and terrorism, primarily from the south. These countries shall solve the real issue of convergence in the region. The basic steps have been taken and now they shall create a joint market and develop a unique Central Asian treaty to enable them to address their economic, military and political concerns.