Monochrome by Centil Law: Heat

For central asian economies it is business as usual as states focus on reaching their set targets amidst heated intra-Afghan and US-Iran relations.

As more mining companies set up their operations in Kazakhstan, the government introduced a new tax on energy used by cryptominers, which will come into effect from January 2022. The new amendment to the national tax code for cryptominers charges 1 tenge, equivalent to $0.00233, per kWh to any crypto mining operation in Kazakhstan, in an attempt to fight the shadow economy. 

Uzbekistan projects an increase of copper production to 400,000 tons in the next five years yielding a revenue of $7-8bn. To reach this level of production, the government intends to set up a copper industry cluster and introduce modern technologies in the sector involving foreign companies. By 2020, Uzbekistan generated 148,000 tons of copper, 60% of which is sold for export in its raw state.

Kazakhstan ranked 31st out of 182 countries in the 2020 Global Cybersecurity Index composed by the UN's telecommunication Union organisation ITU. Having climbed up 9 positions since 2019, it also comes second amongst the CIS countries, after Russia. The ITU Cybersecurity report, initiated in 2015, considers legal, technical, organisational, capacity development and cooperation measures. 

The World Bank agreed to provide Uzbekistan with a $380m loan and a $43m credit package from its Green Climate Fund to modernise electricity transmission lines in 11 regions across the central asian country. The funds will be issued with a maturity period of up to 40 years. It is also expected that Uzbekistan will receive a $4m grant from the Green Climate Fund for individual project activities.

The German renewable energy developer Svevind Energy signed a memorandum of understanding with Kazakhstan’s national development agency to build a 45GW green hydrogen complex in the steppe areas in the west and centre of Kazakhstan over the next eight to ten years. The farms will be complemented by 30GW of electrolysers to produce about 3m tonnes of green hydrogen a year. 

Uzbekistan accelerates the privatisation process as President Mirziyoyev orders for state shares in 900 enterprises to be sold at online auctions for market value by the end of the year. To encourage bidding, the fee for participation in online auctions was also cancelled. In this way, the government aims to reduce the state share in businesses by at least three times in the next two years.

The Brussels Court of Appeal rejected Kazakhstan’s request to unfreeze the $542m of its state assets, which were frozen after Kazakhstan’s refusal to pay a binding arbitral award in this amount to the Stati in 2013. Earlier this year, the Stati also requested a New York court to dismiss Kazakhstan’s civil claim against them for winning a $506.7m arbitral award for seizure of petroleum operations in the country.

Meanwhile 17 more Afghan state troops seeked refuge in neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan after the Taliban launched an attack on the Shahrtuz border checkpoint in Afghanistan. While Tajikistan offered the troops asylum, Uzbekistan refused to provide a safe haven. Just about a week ago, when the Taliban seized control of the Shir Khan Bandar border, 134 Afghan soldiers had to retreat to Tajikistan.

The last US and Nato troops left the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, a stronghold of the US military for the last 20 years, amidst the Taliban expansion in the country and towards Kabul. As the foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan nears completion, it is believed that the Pentagon will probably retain about 600 of its troops in the country for the protection of the US diplomatic compound in Kabul.

The US efforts in Iran also stalled. Iran restricted IAEA inspectors' access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns following an alleged attack on the site by Israel in April. At the same time, the US carried out drone strikes on weapons storage facilities used by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria allegedly in response to attacks against American personnel in Iraq in recent years.

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