Centuries after its glory days as a trade hub between Western and Eastern civilizations, Central Asia retains significant value for many global powers.
Host to vast amounts of untapped natural resources, the region is posited as the world’s newest energy frontier. Kazakhstan, for instance, has the 12th largest oil reserves in the world — attracting flocks of multinationals competing for contracts and pipelines.
A number of international events also reflect the region’s renewed economic significance. For the first time in 2014, the Asian Development Bank held its annual meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, and discussions focused on Central Asia’s pivotal role in the global economy.
In an effort to unlock the region’s growth potential, the international community has shown relative generosity to the five former Soviet republics composing Central Asia. Recent data published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that in 2013, donors disbursed more than $1.2 billion to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This is in addition to indications from some donors — such as the European Commission — of their intention to ramp up development assistance to the region in the near future.