Monochrome by Centil Law: Winning hearts and minds

Waking up from the smokes and mirrors, Russia is out to win Uzbekistan's heart again, with loads and JVs, while the mood in the neighbouring area is around building trust and bridges.

Uzbekhydroenergo negotiated a $290m credit line from Russia’s Roseximbank to finance the construction of new small hydropower plants across the country. The loan will be issued directly, without government guarantee. Last year, Roseximbank also committed to contribute €19.2m to the construction of a new hydroelectric power station in the Sardoba reservoir, scheduled for 2020-2022.

Surhan Gas Chemical Operating Company secured a $900m loan from Gazprombank and VEB.RF for the construction of a new gas processing complex in Surkhandarya, a project estimated at a total cost of $1.75bn. In addition, the Russian investors are in talks with Uzbekistan’s Finance Ministry and Uztransgaz to contribute $618m for the modernisation of the country’s gas transportation system.

Kazakhstan actively promotes its interstate relations and trade with neighbors. In addition to inaugurating the reopening of the renovated Kordai — Ak Zhol Border Checkpoint between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the country reached an agreement with Uzbekistan to establish a centre for bilateral trade and economic cooperation to facilitate trade and logistics between the two countries.

President Tokayev and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif discussed the opportunities for boosting economic cooperation through the Uzen-Bereket-Inceburun railway connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran. In 2020, the turnover between the two countries reached $237m, which could increase after the lifting of the US sanctions and the signing of the interim agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union.

Kyrgyzstan and Hungary realign their hearts and minds to established a joint development fund in Bishkek with a capital of EUR 14m. The fund will support the financing of joint ventures projects in agriculture, tourism and energy, as well as facilitate bilateral cooperation between the two countries. It seems that only yesterday Hungary's PM Orbán signed a similar deal with ex-President Jeenbekov, but the October revolution rewrote their plans. 

A broad roadmap to save the Iran nuclear deal, halted by Trump’s administration, was agreed upon in the Vienna talks meeting format, aiming to finalise the negotiations just in time for Iran’s presidential elections in June. Parties agreed to submit a full inventory of nuclear related sanctions that the US will commit to lift and a full list of the constraints that Iran will need to readopt to return to compliance.

In Afghanistan, Biden faces the urgency to deal with its second pressing issue - the withdrawal of troops by 1 May. While Ghani prepares a roadmap for peace, the Taliban nearly bombards a NATO air base used by the US and coalition. While no official statement followed on the matter, Biden did express doubts of meeting the deadline, leaving the US military officials in frustration.

ACWA Power signed another financing package in Uzbekistan, this time committing $1bn to the 1500 MW Syrdarya Combined Cycle Gas-Turbine. The EBRD, Germany’s DEG, Standard Chartered, Natixis, Société Générale, the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Bank of China will contribute $475m of senior debt on the back of a Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency four-point cover.

Kazakh Invest and Turkey’s Korumа Group plan to build a pesticide production facility in Kostanay, estimatedly over a  period of a year and a half. At the initial stage, parties will jointly manage the project’s design and strategy planning, approving the types of pesticide to produce and applying for their registration. The Turkish partner will oversee the construction and capacity building processes. 

Uzbekistan dissolved the Capital Markets Development Agency, which was established in 2019. The Finance Ministry is now the sole regulator of capital markets and the Agency’s former head, Atabek Nazirov, was appointed general director of the Direct Investment Fund of Uzbekistan and counsellor to the Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade.

Our minds and hearts are with the Queen as we grieve the loss of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

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