Decisive measures lead to more friction, and new power sharing, as alliances are reshaped, re-evaluated and reformed in the Stans.
President Mirziyoyev ordered the creation of a new state agency for cadastre management within the State Tax Committee to replace the State Committee for Land Management, Geodesy and Cartography. The new agency will administer non-agricultural lands, while the duties of agricultural land allocation, repartition of crops, land record-keeping and price determination will be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute plans to establish a pre-seed startup accelerator for tech entrepreneurs from Central Asia, with the aim to give steam to around 20 tech companies annually. The Nur-Sultan Virtual 2020 online program will start in November. In Kazakhstan, tech businesses attracted $11m in FDI in H1 2020.
Kazakhstan's Government decided to extend the subsidising of small and medium sized enterprises with up to 6% annual interest rates by another 5 months to help build SME resilience in the face of COVID-19. President Tokayev also instructed the National Bank to prolong its program assisting local businesses to replenish their working capital until the end of 2021. To finance this extension, the government will issue an additional $476m, bringing the budget of the program to $1.9 bn.
The US Department of State published a new report on "2020 Investment Climate Statements: Uzbekistan", in which it underlines the achievements of President Mirziyoyev’s government in attracting FDIs, reforming and liberalising the economy to some extent, hence its good placement in the 2020 Doing Business Ranking. At the same time, the report highlights the persisting problems of corruption, state monopolies in strategic sectors, non-transparent public procurement and nepotism.
Uzbekistan concluded an agreement with Nike and Adidas to start manufacturing their sport shoes at the SinoInternational plant in its Andijan region. While the country's cotton is still boycotted by the international community, the state has re-directed much of its efforts to develop the export of its locally produced textiles and fabrics. The state's next aim is also to domestically process all of its cotton by 2025.
According to a recent report by the Pentagon, China considers expanding its military presence and setting up new bases in Tajikistan, along with 11 other countries. Earlier, the PRC also made a bold move by signing a military and trade deal with Iran. Combined with the increased joint Chinese-Tajik military trainings and the fact that China now owns 40% of the country's total external debt, the idea of more military bases in Central Asia raises many concerns, both in the US and locally.
After Tajikistan suspended the supply of electricity to its neighbors allegedly due to the low levels of water last month, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan now restricted their exports of liquefied natural gas and are giving Tajikistan the cold shoulder. According to Tajik officials, Uzbekistan decided to stop the supply of LNG to Tajikistan completely until the end of 2020, Kazakhstan interrupted its oil export during the month of September only, until further notice.
Turkmenistan increases its participation in international trade. The first rail freight train arrived in Turkmenistan from China transporting 48 40-feet standard containers, transiting through Kazakhstan along the Altynkol-Bolashak route. At the same time, Ashgabat also participated in the discussions in the framework of the Energy Charter Treaty. Talks covered the means to modernise trade and logistics of energy resources, as well as review the access to infrastructure and tariff formation.
The Japan International Corporation Agency committed to finance the construction of the third gas turbine at the Navoi power station for $1.18 bn through the National Bank of Uzbekistan. Last December, the Japan International Cooperation Agency signed a contract to provide a total loan of $1.7bn for Phase 2 of the modernisation of the Navoi TPP, as well as Phase 2 of the Electric Power Sector Capacity Development Project and the Horticulture Value Chain Promotion Project.
Peace talks and negotiations of matters of power sharing between the Taliban and the Afghan government are planned to take place tomorrow in Doha. The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners earlier this year allowed for the resumption of dialogue between the warring parties. Incidentally, only days ago Kabul witnessed a bomb attack targeting vice-president Amrullah Saleh, who survived the blast. Talibans deny responsibility for the act.
And for those curious about power sharing in the heavens and more, here's some weekend reading.