On August 12th, 2018 in the city of Aktau in the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the 5th Summit of the Heads of the Caspian States, the Presidents of Turkmenistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation signed a historical document enshrining the legal norms of cooperation in the Caspian Sea in various fields – a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea.

It should be noted that at this historical summit, Turkmenistan initiated the preparation of two very important agreements to be signed following the results of this meeting. These are: 1) the Agreement between The governments of the Caspian States on trade and economic cooperation and 2) the Agreement between the Governments of the Caspian States on cooperation in the field of transport, the idea of which was put forward by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in 2014 – at the 4th Caspian Summit in Astrakhan.

It would be appropriate to note here that trade, economic cooperation and transportation are very closely linked, because it is the transportation system that forms the material and technical basis for the development of mutual trade.

In his speech at the Caspian Summit, President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, noted that cooperation in the Caspian sea largely depends on the degree of involvement of all Caspian countries in trade, economics and transport processes, expressing confidence that the first Caspian economic forum in 2019 will confirm the readiness of our States to lay down efforts in this direction with the proposal to hold it in Turkmenistan.

The heads of other Caspian States have fully supported the initiative of the Turkmen leader. As a result, the adopted Communiqué on the results of this summit reflects the initiative of the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to hold the first Caspian economic forum in 2019 in Turkmenistan.

This initiative is based on Turkmenistan’s fundamental vision of the strategic importance of the Caspian Sea in regional and interregional geopolitical and geo- economic processes, its role as an important transit-transport and logistics hub, with its strong economic, energy and transport potential necessitating further joint efforts of the Caspian States.

According to the Head of State, this forum should become a permanent platform for multilateral economic dialogue with the broad participation of various members of Governments, business and academic circles, representatives of international organizations, and it should be held on a regular basis alternately in each of the Caspian States.
Today, Turkmenistan has started detailed preparations for the First Caspian economic forum, which will be held on August 12, 2019 in the National tourist zone “Avaza”.

Comprehensive preparation and holding of the first Caspian economic forum will be conducted with the approval by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov adopted from the concept of the forum. The organizational and analytical work will be concentrated in the coordination center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, created by decision of the Head of State on December 14th, 2018 at a meeting of the Government.

According to the Concept of the First Caspian economic forum, the agenda will include a wide range of issues that will form the basis of promising areas of cooperation between the participating States. Thusly, for the exchange of views and constructive discussion, topical issues will be proposed regarding the intensification of trade and economic relations, including the creation of the conditions necessary for the development and implementation of major projects, the role of the economy of the Caspian region in the global context, the increase of investment attractiveness in the main industries: energy, trade, tourism and other sectors of the economies of the Caspian States respectively.

International economic cooperation has a positive impact on the development of national economies – countries contribute to each other’s development. It is worth noting that international trade relations are developing intensively within individual continents and regions. This is due to the fact that between the countries located within the individual regions, there were decades or even century’s worth of communication, effective systems of information exchange. The international division of labor has been developing between such countries for decades. All this has led to the fact that a significant part of the trade of each region is carried out between the countries of this region. Thus, it is no surprise that the Caspian States account for most of Turkmenistan’s foreign trade.

At present, Turkmenistan is implementing major infrastructure projects, laying transport corridors, expanding the network of highways, railways, air and sea routes, which form the material and technical basis of foreign trade and contributes to the strengthening of world peace and sustainable economic development in the region.

Developed infrastructure is one of the main factors in economic development. The ability to modernize the railway and road network, inland waterways, port facilities, airports, etc. significantly increases the efficiency of the national economy. The combination of factors, supported by efficient infrastructure, can expand the range of profitable investment opportunities which can stimulate further flow of investment.

It is a matter of fact that inadequate infrastructure makes some production processes almost impossible. International trade, for example, largely depends on the density of transport and communication infrastructure.
It is no coincidence that there is a growing trend of investment in the industry related to the development of foreign trade infrastructure in the world. Thus, the countries of the world are investing heavily in the development of first- class transportation and communication infrastructure.

In this context, it is appropriate to note the implementation of a major project initiated by the Turkmen side for the construction of a transnational steel highway known as Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran in the Caspian Sea region, as well as Caspian Sea – Black sea transport corridor between Turkmenistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, designed to become an integral part of the regional and international transport infrastructure. As the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov notes, the territories of the five Caspian countries are a natural geographical space connecting Asia with Europe which ensures the effective functioning of transit transport and trade corridors with the optimization of cargo flows in the East-West and North- South directions.

In his speeches, the Head of State also noted the broad prospects for partnership in the energy sector in the Caspian Sea, where the key principles should be the goodwill of all the parties’ concerned, mutual respect, consideration of each other’s interests, and strict adherence to universally recognized norms of international law.
The Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, signed on August 12, 2018, is a fundamental international legal document, which in a concentrated form reflects the results of the long-term negotiation process of the coastal States of the Caspian Sea, and it is intended to open up opportunities for the implementation of new investment projects in the Caspian Sea.

The site of the First Caspian economic forum will act as the venue for:
1) An international Conference, where the most important promising sectors of the economy will be relevant topics;
2) The Caspian exhibition of innovative technologies;
3) The signing of the agreements and contracts, which in turn will become the basis for further cooperation, giving a powerful incentive to economic, trade, investment cooperation in the Caspian Sea and adjacent regions, along with the transformation of the Caspian Sea into one of the largest transport and transit hubs of international importance, which plays an important role in the formation of a new geo-economic space in Eurasia, meeting modern global trends.

Thus, taking consistent steps to further enhance mutually beneficial extensive cooperation, maximize the use of the huge economic, transport and energy potential of the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan fully contributes to the consolidation of the status of the Caspian Sea as the embodiment of peace, friendship and harmony.