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Regional power trade to be facilitated

May 09, 2009 - Asia Pulse Data Source

Leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, currently both on a visit to Washington, have voiced their commitment to improving regional economic cooperation, including the facilitation of electricity trade between Central and South Asia.

President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari also discussed the development of the Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM) and Central Asia-South Asia Transmission Project (CASA 1000 Project).

At a meeting with the World Bank Group president, they described the project as central to the facilitation of regional electricity trade. As a first step in the development of CASAREM, the CASA-1000 Project will allow the export of existing surplus hydropower from Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to South Asia in summer months.

They noted, together with the governments of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, a functioning inter-governmental council was established in 2007 and a secretariat in 2008 with the objective of developing CASAREM and the CASA 1000 Project.

A statement from the Presidential Palace said on Saturday they recalled an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) signed by the four governments in August 2008. The agreement affirms their mutual commitments to CASAREM and CASA 1000.

Believing the development of a regional electricity market would be beneficial to them and to the region as a whole, they agreed to continue to deepen their bilateral cooperation and with Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic in the development of both CASAREM and CASA 1000.

In this connection, it was agreed that they would instruct their representatives to take next steps that may be necessary to ensure the effectiveness and enforceability of the IGA and shall endeavor to complete all actions pertaining thereto on an urgent basis and to sign the Joint Development Agreement (JDA), preferably during the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECC-A) to be held in Islamabad on May 14-15, 2009.

Karzai and Zardari noted their appreciation for the technical assistance being provided by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation through its InfraVentures, Islamic Development Bank, and Asian Development Bank and support of the United States for the development of CASAREM and the CASA 1000 Project.

They also affirmed their intent to seek financing from these international finance institutions for the CASA 1000 Project. The presidents recognised that the completion of CASA 1000 -- being designed to accommodate an expanded volume of power in the future -- will catalyse additional energy investments and trade both in the four CASA countries as well as in the region.

It could have a positive demonstration effect on other regional infrastructure projects between Afghanistan and Pakistan, such as the upgrading of the Peshawar-Kabul Road and the Peshawar-Kabul Rail Link, they believed.

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