Going into Accelerator Mode
While Mercury goes into retrograde motion, the Stans that have already prepared the ground go full on into Accelerator mode.
Uzbekistan starts to reorganise the fertilisers distribution system to accelerate the transition to an open market economy and liquidates the state-owned company Agrokimyohimoya dealing with agro chemicals. Agrobank will open a $14m credit line for the construction of laboratories, supply equipment and offer financial support to servicing companies. The State Fund for Entrepreneurship Support will cover up to 50% of interest costs on loans.
Amazon expands into Central Asia, adding all 5 stans to the list of countries accepted to register for selling through its network worldwide. This will grant local sellers, including small and medium-sized businesses, access to foreign markets and boost the region’s visibility. To accelerate this, Kazakhstan encourages its neighbors to jointly promote their domestic sellers under a single Central Asian brand.
In view of this, the Parliament of Kazakhstan approved the amendments to the Public Procurement Law regarding the quasi-state sector, introducing a new specialised clause concerning e-commerce sales. The changes provide for the regulation of procurements by the Samruk Kazyna Fund and 250 other state-owned companies and holdings, including their subsidiaries, amounting to $8bn in total.
Indorama Agro, one of the largest cotton farms in Uzbekistan, secured $130m in loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation to modernise the cotton clusters in Syrdarya and Qashqadaryo regions and accelerate the transition to sustainable farming. These funds will also be used to offer contract farming to independent farmers.
The Shenzhen-based Bit Mining plans to construct and operate a 100 MW crypto-mining data center in Kazakhstan with an investment of over $9m. The Chinese firm will hold an 80% equity interest in the new Bitcoin farm, while the remaining 20% will be held by its local partner. The announcement coincides with China’s crackdown on banks' use of cryptocurrencies, disincentivising mining at home.
MOST Ventures expressed its interest in investing up to $2m into Uzbek start-ups at seed and pre-seed stages. This follows last week’s announcement of the launch of Simurg, the country’s first private venture capital fund. With a current authorised capital of $10m, MOST plans to expand its accelerator project activities and plans to announce a new recruitment round across Central Asia.
Kazakhstan plans to construct an energy waste utilisation plant, as part of the state target to increase the share of secondary raw materials processing, such as metal, glass and plastic to 30% by 2025 to meet the EU and European Commission standards. The project is run in collaboration with Sabo S.A., a Greek company assisting in the launch of 6 waste-to-energy recycling plants across the country.
Uzbekistan negotiated $100m loans from the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank each, with 40 and 30 year repayment terms respectively and 10 years of grace period to modernise the country’s healthcare system, transportation, testing, diagnosis and treatment equipment. The loans will be repaid from the state budget and the public debt already exceeds £23bn.
Kazakhstan plans to grant the status of Natural Reserves to the Bokeyorda and Ashiozek natural zones, to protect the local wildlife, including the saigas, now considered an endangered species. This is part of the national policy framework for developing sustainable tourism in the country, which also provides for the establishment of 4 large Kazakh National Parks, at an estimated cost of over $72m.
Amidst the tensions in Afghanistan regarding USA’s intentions, the Pentagon seeks to accelerate its exit from the country and fully withdraw its military troops by mid-July, instead of 11 September as announced by Biden. According to the U.S. Central Command, the US already completed 16-25% of the entire retrograde process. NATO and the allied forces, including the UK and Germany, also plan to meet the new deadline.