Central Asia’s aim of improving regional connectivity and greater integration of Afghanistan are being challenged by tensions between the neighbours and the cocktail molotov that is US-Afghan relations.
The national security chiefs of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan agreed on a border protocol to reinforce the ceasefire, as the first attempt to establish a truce was breached by both sides and new cases of casualties and deaths were confirmed. Kyrgyzstan also reportedly opened 11 criminal cases against Tajik citizens in connection with the violence that broke out over access to a water facility last week.
Tajikistan and Afghanistan will be connected with a new bridge, the sixth on the Afghan-Tajik border, as part of the agenda for regional economic development. The project estimated at €16m will also include the reconstruction of the 18km road within the Farkhor District on the Tajik side and will be financed with the support of the European Union and the Aga Khan Fund for Development.
Kazakhstan committed to deliver humanitarian assistance to India in light of the sharp deterioration of the epidemiological situation. The aid packages include 6m medical masks, 400,000 respirators, 50,000 anti-plague suits, and 105 portable artificial lung ventilation devices made in Kazakhstan. Earlier, President Tokayev also pledged to provide aid to Kyrgyzstan sending 10,000 tons of flour.
The first shipment under the Convention on the International Transport of Goods with destination to Uzbekistan departed from Pakistan via the Torkham customs station through Afghanistan, after a 30 months delay. The Convention facilitates the traffic-in-transit of goods across the Pakistani-Afghan border, skipping the customs checks of transiting Pakistani trucks carrying goods to Central Asian markets.
At the second meeting, the Pakistan-Turkmenistan Joint Working Group on Trade agreed to enhance economic relations and broaden trade connectivity, including in sanitary and phytosanitary standards for trade of agriculture products, the banking sector, pharmaceuticals. Parties also expressed interest in setting up warehouses in Pakistan and a joint chamber of commerce and industry.
UzAssets announced a tender for the sale of its 100% shares of the chartered capital of Fergana Oil Refinery, the second-largest refinery in the country. The application deadline for submitting a letter of interest is on 28 May 28. Last year, a new diesel fuel producing plant was set up at the oil refinery for the annual production capacity to reach 3.6bn cubic meters of gas to meet the domestic demand.
Kazakhstan’s Central Bank opened a public consultation for the integration of a state-backed digital currency, which the government has been considering since July 2020. The Central Bank also plans to issue assets and obligations in Digital Tenge. It is believed that it could improve competitiveness in the payment market, strengthen the financial system’s stability and increase public trust in state-backed payments.
Uzbekneftegaz’s drilling contractor Eriell launched seven new wells in Bukhara, Qashqadarya and Karakalpakstan, as part of its agreement with its Uzbek client on the development of gas wells infrastructure and the 2017-2021 Program on measures to increase hydrocarbon production. To date, Eriell and Uzbekneftegaz completed maintenance works on 328 wells in line with the program.
ACWA Power started the construction of a 1,5GW wind farm in Karakalpakstan, the largest in Central Asia, expected to offset almost 2.5m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and contribute to Uzbekistan’s goal to generate 30% of its power capacity from renewable sources by 2030. ACWA is also investing in two 1GW projects in Bukhara and Navoi and a 1.5GW gas-turbine power station in Syrdarya.
The Taliban launched a multi-pronged offensive in Afghanistan as the US troops remained in the country past the initial 1 May deadline, including bombings, such as the blast in eastern Logar killing dozens as they broke their Ramadan fast. While the US defend the delayed withdrawal with the risk of Islamist militants escalating violence, the latter seem to be doing just that to protest the new 11 September deadline.