Weekly Digest on Central Asia

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Publisher’s note: Central Asia is an important geopolitical area that is playing an exclusive role between Europe, Russia and China. It is in Central Asia that world powers have confronted each other for centuries; it is here that China needs to succeed with its new Silk Road Belt for a direct access to the market of the West; and it is here that a large wealth of raw materials has its origin. Central Asia has always been the transit point of the economic and cultural development between the East and West from the time of Alexander the Great, from centuries before Christ until the present time. Every week thousands of news appears all over the world in printed and online media and it is quite understandable that many of them may escape the attention of busy readers. At The Times of Central Asia we strongly believe that more information can better contribute to a peaceful development and better knowledge of the region, and for this reason we are presenting a Weekly Digest on Central Asia compiling what other media have written and published during the past week.

KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan puts rare metals asset on sale

Blessed with immensely rich but ill-exploited deposits of so-called rare metals, Kazakhstan is pushing for partnerships to develop its own midstream industry in order to export half-fabricates rather than unprocessed ore.

“National Atomic Company Kazatomprom announces the sale of 51% stake in the authorized capital of LLP JV KT rare metal company. Electronic auction starts December 21, 2016, reports KazWorld.info with reference to the business information centre Kapital.kz. An electronic auction following the Dutch formula, meaning allowing lower bids to be made, starts December 21, 2016 at 11:00 Astana time on the web portal of the State Property Register. The starting price, asking for a 51% stake in the authorised capital of the enterprise is more than 98.6 million tenge.“ READ MORE: http://kazworld.info/?p=59686

Amidst global restraint, Kazakhs aim for oil output boost

Under the threat of an escalating socioeconomic crisis spreading over the country, Kazakhstan’s government has decided to bypass the oil production limitation measures agreed upon by the Russian Federation and most OPEC member states.

“Kazakhstan changed projections for 2016 oil production, increasing the volume of expected output to some 77 million tonnes (85 million US tons), state’s National Economy Minister Kuandyk Bishimbayev said on December 15. ‘Now we expect [the oil output] to exceed 77 million tonnes,’ Bishimbayev told reporters. On December 10, at the meeting of OPEC and non-cartel states in Vienna, Kazakhstan agreed to cut on its oil production by 20,000 barrels a day. Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev labelled the reduction as symbolic and said it would not affect big oil fields.“ READ MORE: http://kazworld.info/?p=59630

Kazakhs upgrade midstream petro-industry

In order to become self-sufficient in fuel and byproducts, the country is now due to serve its markets with not just required quantities of fuels but also with qualities comparable with those required in the western world.

“Commercial production of Euro-5 fuel has been launched in Western Kazakhstan, the Development Bank of Kazakhstan, which finance the project, reported. The refining facility worth over 26 billion tenge (330.24 tenge = $1) has a capacity of more than 200,000 tons of gasoline per year and will help cover the needs of the western regions of Kazakhstan in qualitatively high-octane gasoline. Moreover some oil products such as gas oil and tar will be exported.” READ MORE: http://kazworld.info/?s=Commercial+production+of+Euro-5+fuel+

Kazakhstan’s income on agro-sales on the rise

Kazakhstan, which ranks among the world’s top-10 wheat exporters, is getting an incentive in the form of favourable market prices for agro-commodities.

“In January-October of the current year, the prices for exported products in Kazakhstan increased by 9.9% compared with the same period last year, including grains which were up 13.6%, reported the Committee on statistics at the Ministry of National Economy. According to the announcement, in the reporting period the export prices for cotton increased by 36.6%, with wool up 10.6%.“ READ MORE: http://www.apk-inform.com/en/news/1076203#.WFT88E8izIU

KYRGYZSTAN

Kyrgyz Approve Constitutional Changes

It is said that in Kyrgyzstan there is a trend to a growing authoritarian regime. Opposition was against the referendum for constitutional changes that according to previous agreements was not due until 2020. Whatever the case Kyrgyzstan is in need of urgent reforms to facilitate business and attract foreign investment with a better respect of the rule of law.

13-12-16  “One of the most significant changes is to shift some powers from the president to the prime minister, which some observers interpret as a move by the current president, Almazbek Atambaev, to stay in power after his term ends next fall. As the only Central Asian state with some semblance of representative democracy, Kyrgyzstan is often seen in the West as an outlier surrounded by authoritarian regimes, even though two presidents have been forced from power in the last decade.” Read more: http://www.tol.org/client/article/26560-kyrgyzstan

Centerra over Kumtor

In what looks like a retaliation against the Kyrgyz government which earlier this year outlawed foreign transactions by Canadian-owned gold miner Kumtor Gold, the latter’s parent company Centerra Gold (in which the Kyrgyz state owns 32.7 per cent) has now frozen the payment of dividend to all its shareholders.

“Shares in Centerra Gold fell as much as 7% after saying it will suspend quarterly dividends, citing financial restrictions by Kyrgyzstan on its Kumtor Gold subsidiary.
The Kyrgyzstan government has long sought to renegotiate its 2009 agreement with Centerra to secure a bigger share of income, and the company finally took the dispute to international arbitration in May; a Kyrgyzstan court ruling in June restricted Kumtor from making certain financial transactions, including the transfer of money to parent Centerra.
Given Centerra’s restricted cash flow, RBC analysts say the dividend suspension – which will save $35M/year – is a ‘prudent decision’.”  READ MORE: http://seekingalpha.com/news/3229791-centerra-gold-suspends-dividend-kyrgyzstan-dispute

TAJIKISTAN

Russia expands, upgrades its military base in Tajikistan

Faced with the increasing threat of violence and aggression spilling over from the civil wars in neighbouring Afghanistan and nearby Kashmir, Russia is now developing its military base in Tajikistan into the largest on-land one it has in the world. Russian military will thereby not just be able to face battle on the ground, but also hit mid-range targets on enemy territory.

“The Russian military base deployed in Tajikistan will be reinforced with a battalion of the Uragan (“hurricane”) self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system, according to the Russian Central Military District press centre. The Uragan self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system was designed in the Soviet Union.  It began its service with the Soviet Army in the late 1970s, and was its first modern spin and fin stabilized heavy multiple rocket launcher.”  READ MORE: http://www.asiaplus.tj/en/news/tajikistan/security/20161216/234428

Chinese revamp Tajikistan’s chemical compound industry

China’s state and corporate industries have jumped in to revive the once-flourishing Tajik industry of chemical compounds.
 
“China’s Henan Zhongya Holding Group intends to invest 360 million USD in modernisation of coal-powered technological equipment and construction of new facilities for production of urea and ammonia in Tajikistan in the coming three years. Members of Tajikistan’s lower house (Majlisi Namoyandagon) of parliament today voted for ratification of an investment agreement signed between the Government of Tajikistan and Henan Zhongya Holding Group on September 3, 2016.“  READ MORE: https://news.tj/en/news/tajikistan/economic/20161214/234347

TURKMENISTAN

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is nominated as a candidate at the forthcoming elections of the Head of Turkmen State

Turkmenistan is due for new Presidential election on 12 February 2017. The country and the world community expect the introduction of new reforms for the benefit of the country’s population.

15.12.16 ASHGABAT “Declaration of the candidates for high government position was started in the country. As is known according to the Resolution of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, the elections of the Head of the State are planned for February 12, 2017. Broad alternative base is the main principle of the expanded campaign.“  READ MORE: http://tdh.gov.tm/news/en/articles.aspx&article3693&cat37

UZBEKISTAN

Mirziyaev Sworn In As Uzbekistan’s President

A new President has been elected in Uzbekistan. Changes are expected in the country. Some news such as proposed government reforms, a visa free regime introduction and probably a new currency regime have already attracted the interest.

14.12.16 “TASHKENT – Shavkat Mirziyaev has been sworn in as president of Uzbekistan, pledging continuity after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov but also promising a major government reshuffle. Inaugurated at a joint session of the parliament’s two chambers on December 14, Mirziyaev became the second president the Central Asian country has had since it gained independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago.”  Read more: http://www.rferl.org/a/uzbekistan-mirziyaev-sworn-in-president/28175368.html

EU set to back Uzbekistan trade pact

The recent approval of the EU-Uzbekistan partnership and cooperation agreement is a signal of good will from EU to continue to cooperate with Uzbekistan. The approval has met the strong opposition of human rights groups that accuse Uzbekistan of using child and forced labor in the cotton harvest. The government claims that non-farmers, including doctors, teachers and nurses, join the harvest voluntarily. Whatever the case the new President’s administration may have to consider such situation and progressively find a way to a transparent situation.

13.12.16 “BRUSSELS — The European Parliament looks set to approve a textile agreement with Uzbekistan on Wednesday despite continuing objections from human rights organizations which were previously able to rally opposition. The pact resolves the final missing element of the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that has been in place for 17 years, making each side a “most favored nation” for the other.”  Read more: http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/EU-set-to-back-Uzbekistan-trade-pact

Sergey Kwan

TCA