Monochrome: Kazatomprom now listing in London

Date: Nov 2018

The EBRD has published its Regional Economic Prospects report, predicting an ebb in Central Asian growth. The culprits are as diverse as the region itself: rising inflation and the “widening trade deficit” in Uzbekistan, anaemic oil profits in Kazakhstan, a crippling public debt and inhospitable business climate in Tajikistan, and a dearth of “major structural reforms” in Turkmenistan. Only Kyrgyzstan is expected to rev up a little, powered by a hike in non-mineral exports.

Uzbekistan GTL, the troubled gas-to-liquids project, may soon receive its long-awaited financing from a syndicate of creditors including Korea Eximbank, Gazprombank, Roseximbank, and several credit insurance agencies. Petronas and Sasol, two of the initial participants, left the project when Petronas announced its withdrawal from Central Asia. Low oil prices were also a serious restraining factor.

Starting 1 July 2019, companies and individuals in Uzbekistan will be able to privatise non-agricultural lands under their homes, granted that the new presidential resolution gets signed. Foreign companies, though, should expect regulatory barriers.

Russia, India and Iran will build their own counterpart to the Suez Canal, hoping to make Eurasian shipments faster and cheaper. The plan is to chop 20 days off the time in transit and cut the prices by a half. Here's an article about new 7,200 kilometres «Silk Road».

Kazatomprom went public on London Stock Exchange with a 4bn dollar valuation, marking a monumental development in Kazakhstan's otherwise lethargic privatisation program. The world's largest uranium producer, whose listing was coordinated by Credit Suiise and JP Morgan, will soon be followed by Kazakhtelecom and Air Astana. Read here about Kazakhstan’s privatisation programme.

China will buy twice as much gas from Kazakhstan as it does today, capping its annual imports at 10 billion cubic meters. The announcement comes at the height of the Sino-American trade war, which punctured China's liquefied gas supplies.

RusHydro is selling off its 37m dollar stake in Kyrgyzstan's Upper Naryn HPP cascade, following a dispute that negotiations appear to have failed to resolve. Next time the parties see each other will be in court. Experts expect the arbitration to side with the Russians.

Kazakhstan is now in the top 30 countries in the World Bank's ease of doing business index. The Central Asian republic jumped six positions, following a series of successful regulatory reforms in company registration, international trade, and contract enforcement. There's a lesson to be learned.

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