The South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) as well as the five Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are situated at a strategically important intersection between Europe and Asia. The EU Strategy for Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership are major steps towards establishing closer ties between Europe and the CCA region.
The CCA region is an interesting market for the EU, both in terms of economy and energy, and for Austria in particular, has a function as a hub, given the region's geographic location.
Austria's trade volume with the CCA region amounted to € 1.7 bn in 2017, and in the first five months of 2018, it was just under € 1 bn. In 2017, imports from the region increased by 58.4 percent, while exports rose by 4 percent. In the first five months of 2018, imports increased by 53 percent, while exports rose by 13.1 percent. The biggest supplier of petroleum, Kazakhstan, is at the same time Austria's most important trading partner in the CCA region, followed by Azerbaijan.
In view of its strategic significance for Austrian energy security and its export and investment potential that is not yet exhausted in a great number of economic fields, the CCA region remains a promising market with substantial growth potential.
Kazakhstan's accession to the WTO in November 2015, the EU's Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan, which has been preliminarily implemented since May 2016 and which Austria ratified in April 2017, Kazakhstan's visa free regime for EU citizens for stays of up to 30 days in force since 1 January 2017, the EU's Association Agreements with Georgia, which entered into force in July 2016, negotiations with the Kyrgyz Republic and with Uzbekistan on similar agreements, and the planned modernization of the EU's Strategy for Central Asia until 2019 will increase the opportunities and the legal certainty for Austrian enterprises in the region.