• KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01172 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00212 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09388 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

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Kyrgyzstan’s Kumtor Begins Underground Gold Mining

The Cabinet of Ministers of Kyrgyzstan has said that underground gold mining at Kumtor can provide hundreds of millions of additional dollars to the country's budget. The deputy head of the Kyrgyz Government, Adylbek Kasymaliev, presided over a ceremony marking the beginning of work at the mine. The Kumtor deposit is one of the ten largest gold deposits in the world. The mine is located in the Issyk-Kol region in the permafrost zone at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level. Revenues from Kumtor account for roughly one-third of the state budget in Kyrgyzstan, with the mine producing about 17 tons of gold per year. "The feasibility study of the underground gold mining project developed by specialists speaks about its economic efficiency. According to preliminary data, with the help of an underground mining method, it will be possible to get 115 tons of gold. Taking into account the precious metal mined at the [site] by the open-pit method, this is a big step forward," said Almazbek Baryktabasov, President of the Kumtor Gold Company. Mining underground will help the company reach gold of a higher-grade ore, he said, and as a result, the company will be able to increase its tax payments. Until its nationalization in 2021, the Kumtor mine was owned by Canadian company, Centerra Gold. Earlier, the Canadian owners tried to extract gold through shafts. However, gold prices did not render this profitable, as the shaft method is much more expensive than the open-pit mining. Over the past ten years, however, the price of an ounce of gold has risen by more than $700 and is currently trading at just over $2,000. Before Kumtor was expropriated, Centerra Gold spent approximately  $180 million dollars on research related to underground mining. Today, the authorities have allocated an additional mining site next to the one where gold ore is already being extracted. According to some reports, the new site contains a denser concentration of the precious metal per unit of ore. Currently, at Kumtor's open-pit mine, it takes one ton of processed ore and more than 40 tons of extracted waste rock to produce 5-7 grams of gold. Underground mining could double that yield. Furthermore, underground mining is not as environmentally damaging as open-pit mining. For example, one of Kumtor's main environmental concerns is the destruction of glaciers which literally hang over the edge of the open pit.

EDB Reports Economic Growth in Three Central Asian Countries

The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) has released the latest Macroeconomic Review for its six member states — Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. In the face of a challenging external economic environment, the EDB region saw a strong recovery in 2023, with the aggregate GDP of the six nations increasing by almost 4%. According to EDB analysts, this growth was propelled by internal drivers such as robust consumer and investment demand, as well as effective adjustments in production to accommodate changing operating conditions. In Central Asia, Kazakhstan’s economy showed particularly robust growth, surpassing 5% by the end of 2023, largely due to government programs aimed at unlocking the country’s investment potential. Investment and trade increased by 13.7% and 11.3% respectively over the year. Inflation in Kazakhstan continued to decline, with the year-on-year inflation rate dropping from 9.8% in 2023 to 9.5% in January 2024, laying the groundwork for further monetary policy easing. Kyrgyzstan's GDP grew by 6.2% in 2023, supported by stronger consumer demand and increased investment activity. Inflation in the country halved to 7.3% year-on-year in 2023, but the National Bank kept its discount rate unchanged at 13% per annum due to persistent pro-inflationary risks. Furthermore, abnormally cold weather in December-January 2022-23 contributed to an increase in production from the energy sector. However, there are factors that still hinder the pace of growth for businesses in the country. Against a backdrop of persistent, pro-inflationary risks, the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic is maintaining its base lending rate at 13 percent per annum to help control price growth. "We believe that domestic demand will weaken against the backdrop of constraining monetary policy conditions and the projected state budget surplus. According to our estimates, GDP will grow by 4.5 percent in 2024," EDB analysts report. For its part, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce of Kyrgyzstan said that the greatest contribution to GDP growth was made by industrial production. According to the department, the economy received an additional boost due to an increase in the output of basic metals. As has been reported previously, Kyrgyz gold miners have exported a record amount of gold in recent years. In Tajikistan, strong domestic demand and increased exports drove an 8.3% GDP growth in 2023. Inflation declined to 3.8% year-on-year at the end of 2023, close to the lower bound of the National Bank’s target range. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were not included in the report as they aren't EDB member countries. However, according to local media reports, they also showed strong growth at the end of 2023. The Uzbek economy grew by 6 percent, mainly due to growth in industry and increased agricultural  output in agriculture. Turkmenistan's GDP in 2023 showed growth of 6.3 percent -- mainly due to growth in the economic spheres of trade, industrial production and agriculture. According to international organizations, Turkmenistan's GDP has almost doubled in the last five years to $82 billion from $46.5 billion. Turkmen authorities are actively investing in the oil & gas sector, which...

What to Expect from Central Asian Economies in 2024

The pandemic dealt a major blow to the global economy and to the economies of Central Asia in particular, which, despite some domestic production, rely on imports for a significant share (in monetary terms) of their consumption. The Russia-Ukraine war acted as an economic shock to these economies, which had yet to recover from the damage done by Covid. While there is considerable intra-regional potential in terms of manufacturing and trade, most of the imports into Central Asia come from China, Turkey and Europe. At the same time, transnational corporations in Russia account for almost half of Central Asian demand for consumer goods. In 2022, Central Asian countries began to reconfigure their supply chains to comply with sanctions. However, since almost half of the Russian economy was integrated with international corporations and supplied Central Asia, severing these trade links proved almost impossible. This is clearly reflected in the statistics for 2023, where almost all Central Asian countries saw re-exports of Western goods to Russia increase by tens or hundreds of times. In terms of information and statistics, the most open countries of the region are Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan is quickly catching up, with government agencies launching websites where a significant amount of data can be accessed, both about the economy and the country as a whole. Economic indicators for Central Asian countries in 2023 Countries (alphabetical order) GDP (in $ bln)* Growth, y-o-y Inflation, y-o-y Kazakhstan 237.00 5.1% 9.80% Kyrgyzstan 11.90 6.2% 7.30% Tajikistan 11.36 8.3% 3.80% Turkmenistan 60.10 6.3% 5.90% Uzbekistan 90.80 6.0% 8.77% * Approximations Excluding Kazakhstan, the region's largest economy (though still resource-based), whose GDP is larger than the other four countries’ combined, Central Asia can be characterized as a low-income region. With average wages in a range of $250–400 per month, the countries rely heavily on trade (imports) for food, clothing, and basic goods. No country in the region is fully self-sufficient in terms of producing consumer goods, which, given the complex logistics, poses a challenge during swings in markets or geopolitical instability. Still, the last five years have been favorable for the region: there have been fewer territorial disputes and border conflicts, while politicians in all five countries share the view that the C5 and C5+ formats can be an effective tool to develop intra-regional ties and a common market. Last year, the five presidents from the region met with the leaders of China, Russia and the United States. In 2023, the countries fully recovered from the pandemic downturn, and each economy grew in annual terms. Due to its high base ($200+ billion GDP), Kazakhstan turned in the lowest growth at 5.1%. Its economy is driven mainly by resource extraction, metallurgy and agriculture. Given its size – an area of 2.7 million square kilometers – logistics is a big challenge for doing business in the country. Last year, according to preliminary data, Kazakhstan produced 90 million tons of oil, with exports mostly heading to Russia’s Novorossiysk port through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). Kazakh...

Foreign Companies Operating in Kazakhstan Double in Five Years

The number of foreign and joint venture (JV) companies doing business in Kazakhstan reached 52,000 as of January 2024, a number that has more than doubled in five years from 24,700 in 2019, according to a report by Energyprom analysts. At the beginning of this year, 43,400 companies were registered in Kazakhstan defined as legal entities or branches with a foreign form of ownership. Additionally, there were 8,700 JVs. In terms of types of activity, most foreign companies operate in the fields of trade and services, and are most often small businesses. That diverges from Kazakhstan's priorities for the economy to attract and maintain large organizations in industry, construction, and IT. In total, more than 11,000 going concerns, both foreign and JVs, are working in these sectors. At the end of last year in the Karaganda Region, workers completed the construction of Kazakhstan's first lime production plant, which a Belgian company invested in to build. Furthermore, foreign investment totaling $482 million is behind the construction of a copper smelting plant in East Kazakhstan with a capacity of 25 million tons of products per year. In Aktobe, thanks to investment from Italy, a plant will produce thermal insulation materials. Agreements on all of these projects have already been signed. According to the Bureau of National Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Russia holds the largest share among JVs and foreign enterprises, which stands to reason given that this northern neighbor is Kazakhstan's key partner in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In January of this year, 23,400 active Russian and Kazakh-Russian companies were registered in the republic. Following Russia's attack on Ukraine in February 2022, there was a sharp influx of those wishing to move their business from Russia to Kazakhstan. Rounding out the top five countries that are actively opening businesses in Kazakhstan are Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China. Chinese business leaders have registered not just trading companies, but enterprises in manufacturing and mining industries. About 450 Chinese or Kazakh-Chinese companies in the heavy industries sector are currently operating. Among them is an East Kazakhstan-located producer of fuel assemblies for nuclear power plants in China. In terms of regions, the East Kazakhstan and Atyrau regions - as well as the metropolises of Almaty and Astana - attract the most foreign investment. For example, foreign ventures invested $6 billion in Almaty in 2023, whilst the oil refining sector in the Atyrau Region received $5.5 billion.

Doctors, Teachers Among Lowest-Paid Trained Professions in Uzbekistan

The Bdex.ru website, which publishes open-source statistics on salaries in various countries and cities, has provided data on average salaries in the Central Asian republics. According to their reporting, citizens of Kazakhstan earn the most at $775 per month. Wages in Uzbekistan ($346) and Kyrgyzstan ($360) are almost identical, whilst workers in Tajikistan are paid significantly less at $193. As in many fields, there is no data available for Turkmenistan. According to the Uzbek Statistics Agency, average monthly wages rose 17.2% last year. The highest wages are still found in the capital at $600, and the lowest in the Namangan Oblast ($267). Last year, the highest salaries were for those who work in finance and insurance ($1,077), with the lowest salaries going to healthcare ($242) and education workers ($252). At the same time, real per capita income in Uzbekistan grew by only 2.4% in 2023 - the lowest figure in at least five years. In neighboring Tajikistan, the average monthly nominal wage in 2023 increased by 14.3% on the previous year according to the Minister of Labor, Employment and Migration of the Republic of Tajikistan, Gulnora Hasanzoda. Agricultural and forestry workers earn the least in the country at $74, whilst the highest salaries go to miners at $333, followed by energy workers ($332), and construction workers ($275). According to official statistics, there are about two million migrant workers from Central Asia currently in Russia. Low wages and unemployment are increasingly forcing citizens of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to look for work abroad. As a rule, these are low-skilled, low-paid jobs that locals are reluctant to take. Due to the war in Ukraine and fear of being forced into the Russian military, migrants have recently started to look elsewhere. According to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), Uzbekistan was among the leaders in sending seasonal migrant workers to the U.K. in 2022. "We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of seasonal workers coming to the U.K. from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan," the director of the Gangmasters and Labor Abuse Authority (GLAA), Darryl Dixon observed in the SIA report.

U.S. and Central Asian Countries Launch C5+1 Critical Minerals Dialog

On February 8th, the U.S. Department of State hosted the inaugural meeting of the C5+1 Critical Minerals Dialog (CMD), an initiative announced by Joe Biden and the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan at their C5+1 summit in New York in September 2023. The C5+1 Critical Minerals Dialog aims to increase the region’s involvement in global critical minerals supply chains, strengthen economic cooperation, and advance the transition to clean energy, while also protecting Central Asia’s unique ecosystems, the U.S. Department of State said. The United States Under-Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Jose W. Fernandez, chaired the CMD meeting, and Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, Geoffrey Pyatt moderated the event, accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central Asian Affairs, John Mark Pommersheim, and colleagues from across the U.S. government who work on critical minerals.  Senior officials from each of the Central Asian governments shared their interest in developing investment opportunities in critical minerals that meet the highest environmental standards. The participants of the meeting underscored the benefit of working together to advance their countries’ shared critical minerals objectives including diversification of markets and development of technologies.