Carey Gordon, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Representative, discusses USAID’s programmes in Kyrgyzstan.
European Times: Can you tell us about USAID’s activities?
Carey Gordon: USAID has been active in Kyrgyzstan since the country’s independence and has launched a range of programmes with different partners over the years. The average budget is around €30-45 million per year. USAID programmes are involved in four major areas: economic growth, rule of law and governance, public health, and education. Unlike many other donors, USAID does not offer direct budget support to the host government. However we work closely with the government of the Kyrgyz Republic, with private organisations, either profit or non-profit and with other donors.
European Times: What are some of your specific projects?
Carey Gordon: On the economic front we are involved in key sectors like energy and agriculture as well as government-private sector relations and on various economic policy matters such as trade, taxation and licensing. We also promote good governance, judicial reform and the strengthening of non-governmental organisations. Concerning healthcare we are involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and in the government’s mother-and-child health campaign. Finally, we support the American University of Central Asia, a university student testing program, a student loan project, and a youth programme to train young entrepreneurs. We have also launched more than 300 smaller projects focussing on conflict mitigation since mid-2010, working with different ethnic groups, and we provide technical and advisory assistance to the government.
European Times: How would you rank Kyrgyzstan as a business base and investment target?
Carey Gordon: The government of the Kyrgyz Republic is very interested in broadening its foreign direct investment (FDI) base to include more investment from the EU and the US in addition to the investments it receives from Russia, China and other countries. The government welcomes foreign technical expertise as well as financial investment. For Kyrgyzstan to be a success story, it needs commitment and effective coordination between business groups and the government. The government of Kyrgyzstan through many forums seeks to improve the investment climate and it welcomes international assistance to do so. USAID works closely with business associations which are active here, other international donors, and the Development Partners Coordination Council, which brings donors together to improve the effectiveness of international assistance. We have very good collaboration with the government, which is actively promoting reforms across many sectors, addressing corruption, and becoming more responsive to business and people’s needs. Of course much work still needs to be done.
European Times: What changes do you expect to see in Kyrgyzstan over the next few years?
Carey Gordon: I am a firm optimist about the future here. Kyrgyzstan needs to focus on maintaining political stability, continuing to address corruption, improving government efficiency and improving the legal system. International investors should come to Kyrgyzstan to see for themselves. This is a beautiful country with many opportunities and a government which seeks investment and partnerships.