OREANDA-NEWS. September 22, 2016. Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao today met with the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, to discuss the countrys development priorities and reiterate support for the governments efforts to diversify the economy.

Mr. Nakaos first visit to Turkmenistan also includes meetings with Deputy Chairmen of the Cabinet of Ministers in charge of foreign affairs,  economy and finance, hydrocarbon sector, electricity and construction sectors, and the Chairman of the Board of the Central Bank of Turkmenistan and ADB Governor.

Policies to expand manufacturing, promote local value chains and integrate them into the global ones are critical to create stronger and more balanced growth in Turkmenistan, said Mr. Nakao. They will reduce the countrys dependence on the hydrocarbon sector and will help create jobs for its growing working-age population.

Turkmenistans economy relies heavily on oil and gas, which account for over 85% of the countrys exports. The earnings from hydrocarbon exports are expected to remain weak in the medium term due to low global energy prices. Nevertheless, the countrys economic growth is projected to average about 6% in 20162017.

ADB has provided strong support for the TurkmenistanAfghanistanPakistanIndia (TAPI) Natural Gas Pipeline, serving as the TAPI secretariat since 2003 and as transaction advisor since 2013. Once completed, the pipeline will export up to 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The pipeline will provide Turkmenistan with a larger market for its gas exports and generate greater revenues to support high value-added economic activities in the country.

For the next phase, ADB will be pleased to act as financial advisor to mobilize resources from other financial institutions. ADB will also consider financing shareholder equity in the TAPI project company, and provide non-sovereign loans and credit enhancement. Since 2010, Turkmenistan has also benefited from the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program through transport and energy projects.

Since Turkmenistan joined ADB in 2000, ADBs assistance has focused on modernizing the transport sector and increasing the countrys share of regional trade. ADB provided \\$125 million to finance the NorthSouth Railway Projectsignalization of 288 kilometers of railway between Chilmammet and Buzkhunhas improved the transport link for regional trade from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan, Iran, the Persian Gulf countries, Russia, and South Asia.

ADB is in the midst of preparing its new country partnership strategy with Turkmenistan for 20172021 to help the country achieve its national development agenda, as reflected in the Governments National Program of Social and Economic Development 20112030. To support efforts to diversify the economy ADB plans operations in regional infrastructure, access to finance and potentially education in the social sectors.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled \\$27.2 billion, including cofinancing of \\$10.7 billion.