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Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia and South Caucasus

February 21, 2019

Washington, DC and Online



  • China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is widely expected to help promote Eurasian economic integration. Two of China’s six planned BRI economic corridors will run through the sprawling Central Asia and South Caucasus (CASC) region. How can CASC countries gain the most economic benefits of BRI while managing the financial and social risks?

    Informed by background notes prepared by CASC region experts who have unique insights about BRI projects, the authors argue that potential benefits include greater regional connectivity, higher growth and fiscal revenues, technology transfers, and jobs.

    However, countries also need to manage risks such as unsustainable debt burdens, greater dependence on natural resources, and environmental and social challenges. The authors recommend that CASC countries work together to ensure regional coherence, learning, and leverage, and that BRI investments be transparent and integrated with national plans.

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    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt

    Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asia region at the World Bank. Prior to this, Asli was Director of Research in the Development Economics Vice-Presidency. Since joining the Bank in 1989 as a Young Economist, Asli has held several other positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.


    Johannes Linn

    Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institute

    Mr. Linn is a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, Distinguished Resident Scholar of the Emerging Markets Forum, and Senior Advisor at the Results for Development Institute (R4D). Mr. Linn received his training as an economist at Oxford University, England (BA, 1968), and at Cornell University, USA (PhD, 1973). He joined the World Bank in 1973, where for nine years he worked in the research wing on issues of urban development policy.


    Harinder S. Kohli

    Founding Director and Chief Executive of Emerging Markets Forum

    Mr. Kohli is the Founding Director and Chief Executive of Emerging Markets Forum as well as Founding Director, President, and CEO of Centennial Group International, both based in Washington, D.C. He is the Editor of Global Journal of Emerging Markets Economies. Prior to starting his current ventures, he served over 25 years in various senior managerial positions at the World Bank. He has written extensively on the emergence of Asia, Latin America, Africa and other emerging market economies, financial development, private capital flows, and infrastructure.


    Caroline Freund

    Director of Trade, Regional Integration and Investment Climate, World Bank

    Ms. Freund is Director of Trade, Regional Integration and Investment Climate. Previously she was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She has also worked as Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, after working for nearly a decade in the international trade unit of the research department. Freund began her career in the international finance division of the Federal Reserve Board and spent a year visiting the research department of the IMF.

  • ECA Talks are chaired by Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia, and hosted by the Europe and Central Asia Region.

    These events facilitate a dialogue on issues of policy interest for the region.

    Visit the Office of the Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia for more information and details.  

Event Details

  • Date: 21 February, 2019
  • Time: 10:00am - 11:30am EST
  • Location: MC C1-100, World Bank Main Complex
  • CONTACT: Suzette Dahlia Samms-Lindsay