The region maintains the status quo - promoting interests abroad, attracting investments, and improving internal affairs. All of this covered below.
Astana kicked off its week with the Kazakhstan-British Business Forum on Investment Partnership in the mining industry. The UK Minister for Business and Trade and the Ambassador of Kazakhstan in London held panel discussions on the opportunities for developing key minerals and investment options for the British mining community. The discussion also touched on the digitalization of Kazakhstan's geology, which is in the process of creating a unified platform (minerals.gov.kz), based on the "one-stop shop" principle, for investors and mining users.
Not straying too far from the European continent, Astana also held discussions on further cooperation in the interregional format of Central Asia - EU. Negotiations took place between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the EU's Special Representative for Central Asia, Terhi Hakala. Once protocol talks on the prospects of strengthening bilateral cooperation were over, the parties moved on to the substance of the meeting, namely the further agenda regarding the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route within the EU's "Global Gateways" strategy.
Kazakhstani officials responsible for internal affairs were not idle either and discussed the implementation of the G4 City project at a meeting chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. Government representatives agreed on a work plan and decided that the project would require the development of several relevant acts to regulate relations in the necessary areas of activity. Just to remind, G4 City is a new project in Kazakhstan that is expected to become an integrated city with a population of over 2.2 million people.
Meanwhile, the freshly reelected President of Uzbekistan started his new term actively. Mirziyoyev instructed the government to prepare a package of new investment projects worth $30bn. The President also announced the introduction of a new system for attracting and implementing investments, which will allocate $12.1bn to accelerate work on 1500 investment projects. Responsible investment managers will be assigned to expedite work on 272 projects with a total value of $11.5bn. They will be selected from among ministers, deputy ministers, and top bank managers.
Meanwhile, the ADB made its contribution to the Uzbek piggy bank by allocating $125m for the modernization of the power transmission network. The project foresees the reconstruction of 12 lines with a total length of 359 km in 7 regions. Additionally, the power transmission network will be digitized through the replacement of old technologies with modern high-voltage lines and substations ready for connection to the SCADA system with National Electric Networks of Uzbekistan standing as the local beneficiary.
Another piece of good news for the country's investment attractiveness was the President's decree on the introduction of the independent market regulators in sectors related to natural monopolies, including electricity, gas, telecoms, roads, and aviation. By 2025, the Competition Committee of the country is expected to transfer the regulation of tariffs to these regulators. An inventory and optimization of documents regulating the tariffs of natural monopolies are also expected.
In the same good spirit, investments were the topic of discussion at the regional level as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization members agreed to establish an association of investors. The heads of states set ambitious goals until 2030, including the development of a roadmap for implementing a program to stimulate industrial cooperation between the business circles of the member states. Following the meeting of the SCO Council, the responsibility for this task was given to the relevant ministries of each country.
Meanwhile, Dushanbe focused on showing its good intentions to farther neighbours, as the Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan met with the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan in Baku to discuss the expansion of bilateral economic cooperation. This included the creation of joint industrial enterprises, free economic zones, and attracting capital for the reconstruction of the Tajik Aluminum Company's plant. However, the main topic of discussion was the transportation of crude oil from Azerbaijan for the needs of the oil refinery in the Dangara SEZ.
Ashgabat on the other side is displaying good intentions in relations with Iraq, which now sees Turkmenistan as a potential gas supplier. According to the statement of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, Iraq is in critical need of more natural gas to meet the demand for electricity. At an emergency meeting in Baghdad, the Prime Minister instructed his government to find alternatives to gas imports into the country, including imports from Turkmenistan.
In turn, Kyrgyzstan is also facing a mild crisis in the energy sector as its Ministry of Energy drafted a resolution proposing to restrict coal exports for eight months. Solid fuel will only be allowed to be exported by rail and through border crossings on the Kyrgyz-Chinese border. Authorities are concerned that there will be a coal shortage in the upcoming autumn-winter period. The reason is that coal is being purchased in large quantities at quarries for export to European countries, Pakistan, China, and Uzbekistan.
From connectivity to trade, Central Asia is dominating the headlines. Wrapping up, here's a look at what regional connectivity would mean from a standpoint of a European beholder