Monochrome by Centil: Moneymakers

Stans waved goodbye to another week that added billions of dollars to the region's piggy bank and advanced relations both with foreign countries and among themselves... at least on paper.

One such example was the Kazakh-Tajik Business Forum, where the parties signed 39 commercial contracts and agreements worth more than $1.8b. The forum, held in Astana, was attended by representatives of the private sector, as well as the heads of both states - Tokayev and Rahmon. The outcome became possible due to close cooperation between the countries, particularly bilateral trade in 2022 that grew by 18.5% amounting to $1.4b.

One of the significant agreements was the decision to establish joint development of coal deposits, as announced by the Minister for Industry and New Technologies of Tajikistan. The countries also signed an agreement on the construction of wholesale and distribution centres, which will increase the supply of fruits and vegetables demanded in Kazakhstan. Further cooperation on the export of automobiles manufactured in Kazakhstan to Tajikistan was also confirmed, including crossovers from Peugeot and JAC.

Astana also focused on developing internal regions and organized the Zhambyl Economic and Investment Forum-2023, where seven agreements were signed with major foreign companies worth $700m. Foreign investors from Germany, Hungary, India, and Singapore plan to build ferroalloy and cement plants, launch production of construction materials, solar power plants, and a food factory in Zhambyl. The region also plans to create an industrial-logistic park utilizing the investor contributions.

Ashgabat held its investment forum as well. The International Transport-Transit Corridors: Interconnection and Development-2023 (ITTC-2023) forum saw the signing of 26 documents, the dollar amount of which is not yet clarified. The agreements covered variety of areas, including aviation and railway services, ICT, cargo transportation, and others. Investors included conglomerates such as Germany's Lufthansa, IBA IT Park from the Czech Republic, Russian Railways, China-Turkmenistan Partnership Logistics, Iranian SBT Trading, Turkish Albayrak Group, and India's Anipra Impex Ltd.

However, the successes of the neighbours seemed to pale in comparison to the deals pulled off by Tashkent. One example was Germany - the two countries' governments signed 16 bilateral documents and business agreements worth more than $9b, that covered such areas as green energy, chemical industry, pharmaceuticals, transport, digitisation of agriculture, and others. The deals were closed during Mirziyoyev's visit to Berlin, where he also met Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Among the major deals was €200m in funding from the German KfW to improve drinking water supply and sewerage services in the Surkhandarya and Fergana regions. This figure includes €130m in loans and €70m in grant funds. A memorandum was also signed with Aqua Consult Ingenieur on a sewerage construction project in the regional centers of the Samarkand region. Another €10m will be directed to support other KfW projects in Uzbekistan.

One of the largest beneficiaries of President Mirziyoyev's visit to Germany was the National Bank of Uzbekistan, which entered into a credit agreement worth €130m with Deutsche Bank AG. The funds will be directed towards supporting projects in the fields of transport and production. Another credit line of €130m was granted by Landesbank Baden-Württemberg to provide NBU with exclusive conditions to attract financing for investment projects in the textile industry and alternative energy.

The results came in for the Tashkent International Investment Forum, which took place last week. A total of $11b worth of agreements were signed, which is 40% more than at the previous year's forum. Major investors included the Austrian Lasselsberger Group, Vietnamese Mareven Food, Cadila Pharmaceuticals from India, Dewan Cement from Pakistan, and Al Bawani and SAJCO from Saudi Arabia. However, the largest were the agreements to build new power plants with Chinese Gezhouba Investment and Turkish Cengiz Enerji with contracts worth $1.3b.

Kazakhstan also made progress in the energy sector. Astana will cooperate with Paris, which expressed readiness to assist in the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant and in studying the prospects for developing small modular reactors. The 1 GW NPP is planned to be launched in 2026-2027. The project was approved during Tokayev's visit to Paris last November, and it will be implemented by Total Eren, Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund, and KazMunayGas.Bishkek, on the other hand, traditionally turned to the World Bank for help in developing the strategic sector. The bank plans to allocate additional $200m as a grant for updating the technical and economic justification for the construction of the Kambar-Atinskaya HPP-1. Official reports from Bishkek state that once the document is actualised, the project cost can be approved and presented to investors. Currently, partners from Russia as well as consortia from Turkey, Pakistan, and China are interested in joint construction. 

On a fun note, a new moneymaker made the news in Tashkent - the Central Bank issued a license to Yangi Bank (New Bank) to operate in Uzbekistan. And kudos to Centil's Tashkent team for facilitating two of the headlines in this issue. Well done!

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