• KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01134 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00225 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09234 0.22%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 7 - 12 of 337

The New Silk Road

In light of the current geopolitical situation in the world, many countries are puzzled by the search for new alternative transport routes. One of these is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), which runs through China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and further to Turkey and European countries. New transport corridors through which goods and raw materials can be exported by all modes of transport are a vital task for many countries, today. Such routes must first of all be safe, beneficial to all partners, and economically feasible. The TITR, or the “Middle Corridor”, as it is also called, falls into these criteria. It was conceived more than ten years ago and began operating in 2017. In recent years, this route has been experiencing a new round of development, and this is not surprising since it connects East and West whilst bypassing Russia. Today, this is a flagship cooperation project for many states. This transport artery, connecting China, Central Asia and Europe, can become a continental bridge of the Belt and Road, halving the time of cargo transportation and significantly reducing transport costs. The route encompasses 11,000 km of rail, and includes ten seaports. It originates in China at the port of Lianyungang, passing through Xi'an to Urumqi, through Kazakhstan - from the dry ports of Khorgos and Dostyk - to the ports of Aktau and Kuryk, the Azerbaijan (port of Alyat), Georgia (Tbilisi), and then through the Black Sea it continues onto Europe. It is noteworthy that this route is multimodal, that is, rail, sea and road transport can be used. The current capacity of the Trans-Caspian international transport route is 6 million tons per year. By 2025, it is planned to reach a level of 10 million tons per year. So, the potential is great. Assessing all possibilities, interested states intend to invest financial resources in the further development of this corridor and the expansion of its port and railway infrastructure, which will have a positive impact on the quality of services provided and reduce transportation times. Each side – China, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan – has its own benefit, and these countries have something to offer each other in much larger volumes than the current supplies. China intends to develop its western provinces, providing them with access to regional markets. Azerbaijan sees an opportunity to strengthen its transit role and become the largest transport hub. Türkiye, in turn, continues to extend its influence in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. As for Kazakhstan, there are fears that attacks by the Ukrainian Army on Russian oil refineries could lead to a blockage of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), which supplies Kazakh oil to international markets. In this regard, a huge amount of work is being done to diversify, and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route comes in handy here. The Kazakh company, KazMunaiGas has already purchased tankers, and there are agreements with Azerbaijan on access to the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipelines, through which Kazakhstan can transport about 2 million tons...

Taliban and its Neighbors: A Regional Format for Overcoming Challenges in Afghanistan and Beyond

The process of making Afghanistan an independent economic entity that can work constructively within globally accepted economic standards and formats will require addressing pressing security issues as well as strengthening regional partnerships and cooperation. In the long term, this will not only benefit the people of Afghanistan but also its neighbors, as well as the Central Asian republics, who still need to realize their full transit and transport potential to best respond to the world’s changing needs in a new geopolitical environment. While there is currently emphasis on increasing bilateral trade, this in itself will not cure the economic and other problems ailing Afghanistan. Strategic infrastructure projects, in particular, will play a key role in ensuring the long-term economic stability of this country. The Taliban Government is already reaching out to regional neighbors in a new way since it regained power in 2021. Some of the existing regional cooperation structures can be molded to provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration with Afghanistan. Modern realities dictate to the region the need to quickly overcome existing differences in intra-regional relations and create a new model. To this end, the states in the region surrounding Afghanistan should build a system of coordinated and cohesive measures and approaches with security as a key consideration, bringing Afghanistan into the fold to serve mutual interests through regional development.   Rapprochement or a de facto relationship with regional states? Recently, the Taliban Government in Afghanistan has been fairly successful in developing cooperation with neighboring countries. It seems that, as opposed to focusing solely on isolation from the West, the current regime has chosen to start actively establishing ties with states in the region, placing the main emphasis of their foreign policy on regional governments who are more interested in pragmatism than ideological prerequisites when it comes to their affairs with Afghanistan. If, for Pakistan and Iran, various forms of cooperation with Afghanistan are historically understandable, then for the Central Asian republics, the Taliban’s openness to broader dialogue, along with the promotion of mutual economic interests, allows for the prospect of transforming the whole region into a fully-fledged, self-sufficient collective unit within the larger global system. To achieve this, Central Asian countries must still overcome narratives of the past, develop common approaches (including through regional formats), and practically see Afghanistan as a genuine partner. In the meantime, states in the region are largely acting intuitively rather than with a calculated strategic depth, or strictly weighing the benefits of building trade relations with Afghanistan’s new authorities. That said, regional players still follow different vectors and act according to their own circumstances despite a common desire to see a stable neighbor in Afghanistan. For Islamabad, for instance, the main trigger in relations with Kabul is the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP. Tehran, on the other hand, seeks to protect the Shiite minority in Afghanistan and see their participation in an inclusive government, but at the same time, builds dialogue with the Taliban, including on border security...

How India is Becoming a Robust Soft Power in Central Asia

The middle-income trap, a pressing issue that has led to the stagnation of many successful developing economies, demands immediate attention. This trap, which occurs when a middle-income country can no longer compete internationally in standardized, labor-intensive goods due to relatively high wages, is a result of various factors, including countries most successful demographic characteristics. For instance, access to education has reduced birth rates due to an almost 100% literacy rate defined by 12 years of education. In the process, importing cheap manufacturing products has made local products uncompetitive. In such a situation, the country should have planned to upgrade current skill-based education to high-tech skills such as ICT, pharmaceuticals, etc. This shift to high-tech education holds immense potential for developing countries, offering a pathway out of the middle-income trap. Unfortunately, poor investment in developing high-tech education has led to an inadequate supply of a high-skilled workforce. Developed economies, such as the U.S. and a few European countries, are in an advantageous position to overcome such a trap due to their highly effective immigration policy. Developing countries, such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, the Philippines, and almost all Central Asian Republics, meanwhile, suffer. This will be further aggravated if the issue is not addressed urgently. Due to its geographic location and natural resource endowments, Central Asia, a diverse region with a mix of upper-middle and low-income countries, holds significant importance in the global economic landscape. Let's look at a specific case, such as Uzbekistan, a country whose population is growing at 1.3% per annum. Regarding age structure, the 0-14 age group makes up 30.1% of the population, the 15-64 age group 64.6%, and the 65-plus group constitutes just 5.3%. The country has achieved a high literacy rate, with 100% of the population completing 12 years of primary and higher secondary education. However, the country’s GDP per capita is relatively low, at US$ 3,209 (nominal term) and US$ 11,316 (PPP). The country's economy is dominated by the services sector, which contributes 48.4% to the GDP, followed by industry at 33.7%, and agriculture at 17.9%. The poverty line is set at less than US$ 3.2 per day, affecting 10% of the population. The country's labor force is distributed across sectors, with 25.9% in agriculture, 13.2% in industry, and 60.9% in services. The unemployment rate is 5.3%, and underemployment is a significant issue, affecting 20% of the population. The low supply of highly skilled workers challenges further increasing per capita income. The country will likely fall into this middle-income trap because it reaches a certain average income and cannot progress beyond that level. It seems helpful to mention some insights from this perspective. During Soviet times, the growth model of states was determined by their available resources, and Central Asia is rich in abundant resources. However, in most cases, primary resources were taken to other non-resource wealthy states for further value addition. So, the workforce was created in the respective states based on the concerned state's requirements. Workforce migration from one state to another was...

The Priority of Maintaining a United and Stable Afghanistan

The issue of inter-ethnic relations in Afghanistan affects not only the country itself but also its surrounding region. Recent history has placed a heightened importance on the “nation” question in Afghanistan in terms of the country’s political and social stability. Since regaining power in 2021, the de facto Taliban authorities have focused primarily on social policies to respond to the people’s immediate needs as well as on implementing trade and economic cooperation with regional countries to realize the geo-economic potential of the country. To a large degree, they have been successful in these endeavors. The important question now is how the Taliban will work to synthesize various ethnic groups into a society that has a strong identity as a nation while preserving the Pashtun status quo and the legacy of Durrani statehood. Afghanistan in its current state is not ready for a federal structure, and outside actors pushing this now could possibly undermine its stability. On the other hand, the country and the wider region have a long history of diverse ethnic and national groups managing to find a way to coexist and function effectively. As the Afghan people try to overcome humanitarian crises and focus on their economic and social recovery, the Taliban’s strategy will likely continue to be based on the consolidation of ethnic groups around itself and under the umbrella of Islam, supported by measures of assimilation and expansion, as Pashtun rulers did in the country’s history. Understanding the historical role of ethnicity and nationality in Afghanistan So far, no modern regime in Afghanistan has been able to significantly advance the idea of “Afghan nationalism,” reflecting the national unity of the country’s people. Slogans about “one nation” have always been promoted by the capital, but did not necessarily reflect realities on the ground. The latest (2004) republican constitution states in its Article 4 that the Afghan nation consists of “Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Baluchis, Pashais, Nuristans, Aimaks, Arabs, Kyrgyz, Qizilbash, Gujars, Brahuis and other tribes,” and that the word “Afghan” applies to every citizen of Afghanistan. This multinational state has so far shown stability in its ethnic groups, but cannot demonstrate their synthesis into a society with a strong self-identification as the Afghan nation, and the term “Afghan” continues to serve as an exonym, a general name for the inhabitants of the country. After regaining power in 2021, the Taliban worked to stop a bloody civil war that had begun in 1978, but faced a set of problems including the big “national question.” Against the backdrop of demands from the international community to ensure an inclusive government, the idea of federalism is once again being brought up in information spheres, which, according to its few supporters, presents the only way to ensure long-term peace in this diverse country. Discussions about federalism in Afghanistan are not new and are largely connected to events in recent history, primarily the civil war that began in 1978 with the “April Revolution.” That said, there has not been enough technical analysis...

The Middle Corridor: How Kazakhstan is Carving its Niche in Europe-Asia Transport

In the aftermath of the pandemic and amid rising geopolitical tensions and sanctions – leading to the breakdown of traditional shipping and logistics chains – the need to develop new, alternative routes for trade has gained particular importance. One such route is the Middle Corridor, or Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, which has become a priority project for Kazakhstan and its neighbors. In this overview we look at the prospects for this multi-modal transnational route. The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), or Middle Corridor, starts in China, passes through Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, before reaching Europe. Last year, more than 2.7 million tons of cargo was transported along the TITR, up 86% on 2022, whilst it is expected to carry 4 million tons this year. Drivers of growth This growth in volumes has been facilitated by the conflict in Ukraine and restrictions on the transport of goods through Russia, which previously represented the main land route connecting East and West. As a result, in 2022 the volume of container traffic via the TITR grew 33% year-on-year. In addition, amid the geopolitical tensions that have effected the safety of traversing the Suez Canal and the Red Sea – the central and shortest trade route between Asia and Europe – many shipping companies have been forced to go around the southern tip of Africa. This has led to an increase of 14-18 days in the delivery time of goods, as well as additional costs. Because of attacks by Houthi rebels, the number of container ships passing through the Suez Canal each week was down 67% year-on-year in 2023, according to the UN. Meanwhile, in the first two months of 2024, trade volumes along the route decreased 43%. According to data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development, last year the cost of transporting goods from Shanghai to European countries by sea roughly tripled. At the same time, shipping goods by rail from inland Chongqing to Europe was a third cheaper than by sea. Experts note that over the past decade, the total cost of transporting goods between China and Europe by rail has fallen 30%. All this opens wide opportunities for the further development of the TITR, which should be taken advantage of by countries along the route. Middle Corridor countries working together Today, to ensure safe and uninterrupted exports, as well as to attract more flows through Kazakhstan and other TITR countries, measures are being taken. Indeed, the route is considered a strategic initiative for the development of the entire region’s transport potential. During a recent visit to Azerbaijan, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that in the future the volume of cargo transported via the TITR should increase to 10 million tons, which is to be facilitated now by both existing demand and technology. At the end of 2022, a roadmap for 2022-27 was signed to eliminate bottlenecks along the route in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkey, while to boost the volume of cargo transported by rail a...

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: the EU’s Indecisive Strategy Towards Eurasia

Times of Central Asia Editorial Marking the next chapter in the geopolitical re-balancing competition between Russia and the West, the European Parliament (EP) on 13 March passed a resolution on deepening ties between the EU and Armenia. The document puts forth the possibility of granting Armenia candidate status for EU membership. Shortly after, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister stated that a new cooperation agreement with the EU could be signed by July 2024. The EP’s “Renew Europe” block, at the forefront of some of the harshest motions and resolutions against Central Asian republics in the EU, endorsed this outreach towards Armenia. This comes a few weeks after Armenia froze its participation in the Russian-led military alliance of six post-Soviet states, known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), after citing the Organization’s failure to fulfill its obligations towards Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan. These recent developments should be considered in the wider context of the EU’s eastward outlook, which has not always been evenhanded. Previously, on 17 January 2024, the EP had passed a resolution detailing the EU’s strategy on Central Asia, which recognized that the region is of “strategic interest to the EU in terms of security and connectivity, as well as energy and resource diversification, conflict resolution, and the defense of the multilateral rules-based international order”. European leaders ostensibly want to bring the Caucasus and Central Asia into the Western fold and away from Russia, China and other competing regimes or ideologies. Economic and security considerations may indeed pull European and Eurasian interests closer. Nonetheless, Central Asian states will likely, and understandably, choose to implement a multi-faceted foreign policy to diversify their trade and security alliances as they continue to transact and maintain working relationships with their powerful regional neighbors. Note that Chinese, Russian and other non-Western investment promises in Central Asia outweigh similar engagements from the EU. There remain other potential obstacles to further cooperation. Not surprisingly, the EU seeks to have a degree of “values alignment” before establishing economic and security partnerships in the region, such as strengthened rule of law, human rights, and freedoms. On the other hand, the EU is sometimes perceived as giving conflicting and even insincere messages. Examples with regard to Central Asia include instances where the EU has asked for progress in certain areas, but then failed to acknowledge policy implementation, or even doubled down on its criticisms despite positive steps taken by the targeted country’s leadership. Take, for instance, the discussions in the EU around the violent unrest in Kazakhstan in January 2022. The EU has called on Kazakhstan to investigate the events and to undertake reforms. In the last two years, Kazakhstan’s president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has overseen a batch of ambitious reforms, including enhanced political participation and representation as well as a stronger legal system and improved human rights, which are essentially unprecedented in the region. The progress made, however, does not seem to have materially swayed the EU’s outlook on the country. In terms of the investigations and...

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