Monochrome by Centil: Frosty

This week the former soviet countries celebrate the 'old New Year', and the Stans are celebrating in style - facing a freeze that's not been seen for the last decade or two. This, of course, poses a serious infrastructural challenge, with the region dipping into energy preservation, but the leadership remains optimistic.

On Friday, Kazakhstan's parliament repealed a law that gave former president Nursultan Nazarbayev's immediate family immunity from prosecution, and took away his status as the leader of the nation. While his legal immunity stands intact, the move might threaten assets and the power that other family members still yield in the country. President Tokayev's administration continues to clamp down on Nazarbayev's family one year after the violent clashes that shook Kazakhstan, leaving over 200 people killed.

Astana also decided on a quota for accommodating foreign specialists – it’s 22,000 people this year, which is 0.24% of the workforce in the country. The workers are divided into four categories - category 1 includes general directors and their deputies. The category also includes 5,313 department heads. Specialists and other qualified personnel occupy a large part of the quota. Being in categories 3 and 4, they can include up to 10,818 employees. The quota is aimed at protecting the internal labor market of the country.

Tashkent took up the distribution of internal resources. This week, President Mirziyoyev decreed to provide the country's enterprises with resources to enhance their potential. The state will allocate $4.9b to provide loans to the industrial enterprises. The President also highlighted the importance of creating favorable conditions and opportunities for light industry. Namely, $300m will be allocated for new projects in the textile sector. The extension of benefits was also applied for the shoe industry and support measures for jewelers.

International cooperation in Tashkent is also in full swing. This week, the President took part in the plenary session of the Voice of the Global South online summit. It was attended by the leaders of India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Guyana, Cambodia, Mozambique, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Senegal and Thailand. In addition to proposals to improve the international trade system, Mirziyoyev also proposed an initiative to create a bank of green technologies to reduce the gap between developed and developing countries.

Apart from the South, successful dialogue also took place with the West. Thus, a special industrial zone for companies from Hungary will be created in Tashkent, where companies producing medical equipment, electronics, and components for it will be located. By the end of January, the parties plan to draw up a list of Hungarian companies with a related capacity in the relevant areas. Also, in the next two years, Tashkent plans to supply Hungarian importers with goods from Uzbekistan (dried fruits and vegetables, polyethylene granules, yarn and textiles) worth $8.2m.

Important news for Kyrgyzstan was the accession of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the construction of the Kambarata HPP-1. The meeting of the energy ministers was held in Bishkek, where a roadmap for the implementation of the project was signed. It is expected that the plant will become the largest power plant in Kyrgyzstan, which will provide electricity to the countries of Central Asia, as well as stabilize the water supply of the region.

Dushanbe was also busy with its infrastructure projects. The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is considering to connect the railway lines of Tajikistan and Afghanistan to create conditions for the integration of roads in Central and East Asia. At this stage, issues of attracting foreign investment are being studied for the preparation of a feasibility study for the construction of the Balkhi-Jaihun-Nizhny Pyanj railway.

Ashgabat had a similar agenda, with plans to develop a transport and logistics system with China. The issue was discussed at the highest level in Beijing between Berdimuhamedov and Xi Jinping. The system will include transit corridors leading to the regions of the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea basin and the Baltic countries in general. This opens up an optimal land route to the European and Middle Eastern markets through the territory of Central Asia.

Keeping up the momentum, Ashgabat signed an online contract worth $30m for the supply of spare parts for locomotives with CRRC Ziyang. According to the Chinese company, this is the largest contract for the purchase of spare parts for locomotives signed between China and Turkmenistan since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries. CRRC Ziyanggo Co. is a subsidiary of CRRC Corporation, the world's largest rolling stock manufacturer in terms of revenue.

Traditional activity in Tajikistan was shown by the World Bank, which approved the allocation of a $50m grant for the implementation of the Development Policy Support Project in Tajikistan. The project will support a reform program aimed at strengthening the stability and sustainability of economic development. The Bank will also provide $15m in non-refundable technical assistance to improve the efficiency of the Rogun HPP construction project.

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