DUSHANBE, October 26, Asia-Plus - US State Department policy aims to expand cooperation with partners in Central Asia, Robert Deutsche, Senior Adviser to the State Department''s Bureau for South and Central Asia for Economic Integration, told journalists in Dushanbe on October 25.   

The American diplomat arrived in Tajikistan to attend the Central Asia and South Asia electricity trade conference that will open at the Tajik president’s out-of-town residence “Pugus” tomorrow.  According to Deutsche, the conference will spur expansion of energy cooperation between the countries of the region and be a decisive step towards implementation of the project that was developed 15 years ago.  

According to him, Central Asia offers good potential for expansion of cooperation and prosperity in the region.   “Our goal is to work out several versions of economic integration in the region, and we are considering several sectors of cooperation,” said the American diplomat. “Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have great energy potential and potential markets for electric power generated in these countries exist in South Asia.”  

At present the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are studying the possibility of exporting electric power from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Deutsche stressed that in the summer period Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan export surplus power to Kazakhstan and further north at the rate of $0.01 per one kWh, while Pakistan is ready to import it at the rate of $0.05 per kWh and India is ready to purchase electric power in its difficult seasons at the rate of $0.13 per on kWh.  “We are conducting negotiations with Pakistan, which has announced readiness to annually import up to 4 million-5 million kWh of electricity from Central Asia beginning from 2010,” Deutsche said. 

He said that the completion of the Roghun hydroelectric power station will be a unique project for production of power, but implementation of the project takes a long time and the plant does not take into account many factors.  According to him, the energy projects should be built on the basis of commercial interests.  “Irrespective of the fact of who will complete the construction of the facility, investors need to be sure of a return on their funds and assure themselves of the profitability of the project,” he said. “For this, Tajikistan should show its investment and commercial attractiveness.” 

Deutsche also stressed that existing water problems between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan should not impede the implementation of Tajikistan’s energy projects.  

He noted that the Government of the United States will take steps to attract American businesses to Central Asia’s economy.  According to him, the AES Corporation of Arlington, Virginia, is interested in the region’s energy and it has intensified its activity in Kazakhstan and Pakistan, as well as signed a memorandum of understanding with Tajikistan on cooperation in the energy sector.  

“The most important thing is a proper environment and climate, that is transparency, supremacy of law and predictability,” noted the American diplomat, “When companies see all these factors, they will come themselves.”  According to him, the United States is working with governments of many countries, including Tajikistan, to improve their investment appeal.