Olivier Chave: Regional countries in Central Asia will encounter losses of approximately USD 4.5 bn per year, if they don’t cooperate

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Local news, 16.01.2018

One of the most painful issues for the Central Asian countries is joint use of water resources with the benefit for all countries of the region. For a long time resolution of water issues in the Central Asian region had stalled but it appears that some progress became evident in 2017. International organizations are actively involved in the search for solutions and provision of assistance.

The Ambassador's Interview
Olivier Chave, Ambassador of Switzerland to Uzbekistan. ©FDFA

Notably, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is making its contribution by conducting major studies of these issues. The Regional Environmental Center in Central Asia and Adelphi, German consulting bureau, took part in the study Review of Water Issues in Central Asia: Cost of Inaction and Advantages of Cooperation in Water Sector. The study was conducted from 01.06.2016 to 01.03.2017.

The subject is quite relevant and in the framework of the Central Asian international conference on 25 Years of Water Cooperation of CA countries: Experience gained and Prospective Objectives, Mr. Olivier Chave, the Ambassador of Switzerland to Uzbekistan, gave an interview dedicated to the findings of the study.

Why it was Switzerland to initiate the assessment of losses from inadequate transboundary water cooperation in Central Asia?

- To certain extent, Switzerland is in the similar situation as the CA countries. We understood in our own experience how important it is to cooperate with each other in the region with common water resources. Thus, we decided to help other regions to foster more effective systematic cooperation in the use of common water resources.

What are the main findings of the study?

- What is most evident is that if there is no additional cooperation, the countries of the region will encounter losses around 4.5 billion US dollars per annum. In other words, if countries enhance and streamline cooperation, not only they will save the aforementioned amount but also we are confident that they would gain even more benefits. Main finding of the study is that if we continue business as usual, it will lead to extra losses. This can be avoided by strengthening and enhancing cooperation.

What is your assessment of current relations between our countries?

- We have had very good relations with Uzbekistan from the very beginning and we were one of the first to establish diplomatic relations after declaration of country’s independence. These relations are materializing in different areas. For example, our private sector has been investing in Uzbekistan since long time. We are in the same voting group at the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. We also have a very good and constructive political cooperation. I hope that our bilateral relations will further improve day-by-day.

Today investments are amongst the major themes in the Uzbek economy. Do you have recommendations from the perspective of Switzerland how to improve the situation with investments in the country and the region?

- I believe that those changes, which took place, are very impressive. I personally believe that implementation of the Strategy of Actions for 2017-2021 by the government reflect those essential elements, which will facilitate systematic and irreversible improvement of investment climate. I believe that improvement of legal system has particular significance for the private sector. It should be fully independent from the government branches. The representatives of businesses and investors, whom I meet, come to me with the same proposals.

· What are feedback do you receive from businesses regarding their activities?

- They are happy with the changes underway and recent decisions. They are very optimistic, as the situation is improving every day.