The C5+1 Regional Connectivity Ministerial took place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on October 24.

Tajikistan was represented at the event by the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Ahliddin Nouriddinov.  

Co-chaired by the USAID Administrator Samantha Power and officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, the conference was reportedly focused on issues related to enhancing regional connectivity and cooperation in the region. 

The C5+1 governments agreed to deepen collaboration to increase trade through the digitization of customs systems and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. reports that the meeting participants, in particular, discussed specific actions that promote inclusive and sustainable economic development.

USAID says that during the Ministerial, Administrator Power announced an additional US$14.3 million in regional programming demonstrating the deepening partnerships between the United States and Central Asian countries.

USAID will support work to modernize customs systems among the Central Asian countries that will increase cross border trade and connectivity.  Each country will work to expand automation and utilize common protocols and recognition of each country's forms and procedures to reduce border transit times for goods, allowing for ease of trade.  These efforts will reduce the time and cost of moving goods across borders, strengthening regional trade linkages and transparency.  Many of these measures are key aspects of membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Administrator Power and officials from the five Central Asian countries reportedly issued a joint statement affirming their shared commitment to enhance regional cooperation with the United States by strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties, diversifying export-import markets, boosting green energy development and energy efficiency, and driving inclusive and sustainable economic development.

The participants also affirmed their commitment to protecting human rights, including the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities.

Following the Ministerial, Administrator Power reportedly held a press conference and reflected on her visit to Uzbekistan and the outcomes of the C5+1 Regional Connectivity Ministerial.

Asked whether the problem of Qosh Teppa Canal being built by the Afghan side was discussed at the meeting, Administrator Power said that water and water shortages were a major topic of the discussions and “…we were of course aware of concerns about developments in Afghanistan and the effects that those could have on countries that are currently reliant on that canal.”

The Qosh Tepa is a canal being built in northern Afghanistan to divert 650 cusec (cubic meters per second) water from the Amu Darya River.  The main canal is expected to be 285 kilometers long and the overall initiative seeks to convert 550,000 hectares of desert into farmland.  The Qosh Tepa Canal begins in Balkh province, and ends in the Faryab province while passing through Jowzjan.

Uzbekistan, the main down-river country potentially affected, has expressed concern that the canal will have an adverse effect on its agriculture.  In 2023 Uzbek officials held talks with the Taliban on the matter, though no official agreements were reached.