Trade that straddles borders in Central Asia plays a vital role in the livelihoods of border communities and buttresses prosperity in often poor regions. By strengthening commercial ties, cultural understanding and deepening community relationships, border trade nurtures amicable relations between neighboring countries. This book examines the characteristics of trade intermediated by a network of bazaars in Central Asia and its significance for local economies. It uncovers the dynamic phenomenon of bazaars in propelling trade. Bazaars were invented in central Asia centuries ago; in their modern form, as highly flexible and low cost centers for trade, endowed with modern sophisticated logistics, bazaars provide a channel parallel to that of formal trade. Bazaars play major roles in regional and national chains of production and distribution with national networks strongly integrated and overlapping across Central Asian economies. They are the major agents for border trade, which fights poverty by cheapening products and by creating employment opportunities, especially for women. The book examines the public policy implications of bazaar or non-standard trade and actions that could be taken to foster such trade. A light regulatory touch and a low fiscal burden would help fight poverty. Improvements in the business climate and elimination of harassment of traders by local officials as well as easing conditions for the movement of peoples and vehicles would be hugely beneficial. But this book goes beyond trade. It considers the potential for border community cooperation in a variety of activities, public services, and shared infrastructure, culture that could yield rich dividends and make meaningless borders as separators of human activities. It examines the example of border cooperation in Europe through Euroregios as a model for Central Asia. Finally, the book concludes with a series of recommendations for public authorities intended to deepen border trade and cooperation.
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