Expert center for eurasian development
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In Focus: ECED Central Asia Digest. 20-26 November 2017

Translation by Toni Michel (@villageescape) – check out his work at

This week has seen a variety of political and economic events in Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, the Republic's new President Sooronbai Jeenbekov took office. Kazakh-Kyrgyz relations remain difficult and escalated to a new exchange of hostile statements. Bishkek reminded Astana about the water resources under its control and warned that they might be used in the mutual conflict. Kazakhstan replied that the use of transnational rivers is regulated under international law. Tashkent this week continued to step up its activity in building economic relations with other countries. Uzbekistan's leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev concluded a successful trip to South Korea, affirming the close economic ties between the two countries. This week also saw several positive signs in regional cooperation.

Kazakhstan Will Increase Gas Exports To Russia In 2018.
Russia's "Gazprom" and "Gazprom Export" signed a protocol on cooperation in the field of natural gas with Kazakhstan's "KazMunaiGas" and "KazTransGas", according to which the Kazakh side will step up its deliveries. "These newly signed agreements provide for deeper relations and partnership in gas processing and delivery within the common market as well as in export and transit. Furthermore, the protocol entails greater export deliveries to the Russian Federation than previously", said a KazMunaiGas representative in a press release on 26 November.

UAZ To Assemble Cars In Kazakhstan
The Russian car maker UAZ will begin to assemble cars in Kazakhstan from the second half of 2018 in substantial numbers. Production will take place in Oksemen and Semey. UAZ will produce SUVs, train carriages and ambulances. One reason why the company will move production to Kazakhstan was the decision to lower the value added tax on Kazakh-produced cars to 12% from January 2018. Kazakhstan the biggest market for UAZ. (, 25 November)

Kazakhstan Reminds Bishkek About International Statutes On Cross-Border Rivers
Kazakh Agriculture Minister Askar Myrzakhmetov commented on the country's dependency on water resources from Kyrgyzstan: "There are international statutes on the use of cross-border rivers that Kyrgyzstan has to respect." The minister further stressed that Astana can appeal to international institutions should Bishkek cut the water supply. Myrzakhmetov also said that Bishkek's policy on water usage not only affect the interests of Kazakhstan, but also those of Uzbekistan. (, 24 November)

Pension Savings Of Kazakh Citizens Found In Troubled Banks
According to the head of the Single Pensions Savings Fund, Nurbubi Nauryzbayeva, about 49 billion Tenge (about $150 million) of pension savings belonging to Kazakh citizens are currently parked in RBK Bank, which is in serious financial trouble. She also said that the savings are not in danger of being lost. Further funds were also held in Kazinvestbank and Delta Bank whose license had been withdrawn - but these were removed until the license review is complete. (Tengrinews, 23 November)


Russia's Duma Legalizes Hiring Uzbek Workers
The lower chamber of the Russian Parliament has ratified an earlier agreement between Moscow and Tashkent on granting Uzbeks the permission to temporarily work in Russia. The treaty is regulating training and working conditions in Russia, guaranteeing labor rights and establishes rules for pensions and social insurance. The agreement with Uzbekistan, signed in April of this year, is the first of its kind. (, 24 November)

Tashkent Resumes Efforts To Join WTO
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said during his visit to South Korea that Tashkent will continue its stalled efforts to join the World Trade Organization. He added that Tashkent and Seoul are preparing a joint roadmap to cooperate on issues concerning WTO membership. The South Korean government expressed its readiness to assist Tashkent through technical and diplomatic cooperation as well as expertise while Tashkent is preparing for WTO membership. (Press service of the President of Uzbekistan, 24 November)

Uzbekistan And South Korea Sign Agreements Worth $9bn
In the course of the Presidential visit of Shavkat Mirziyoyev to South Korea from 22-25 November, Tashkent and Seoul signed over 70 treaties valued at $8,9 billion in total. The petrochemistry sector saw $3 billion worth of agreed exchanges, the banking-financial sector $2,7 billion and the construction and infrastructure field $1,7 billion. Tashkent and Seoul furthermore agreed on cooperating in medical scientific-technical innovation. In the first 9 months of 2017, trade between the two countries rose by the factor 1,3 and now stands at $1,1bn. (Press service of the President of Uzbekistan, 23 November)

Uzbekistan Receives Test Delivery Of Russian Oil
A test delivery of Russian oil from has arrived in Uzbekistan after transiting through Kazakhstan. The load started its journey on 17 November through the Omsk-Pavlodar-Chimkent pipeline before reaching Uzbekistan' local refineries by railroad. The agreement to supply Uzbek refineries with raw materials through the Omsk-Pavlodar-Chimkent pipeline had been concluded during Shavkat Mirziyoyev's visit to Kazakhstan in March of this year. It is estimated that in the early phase, the deliveries amount to 30-50 thousand tons of oil per month. (, 20 November)


Sooronbai Jeenbekov takes office as President of Kyrgyzstan
Sooronbai Jeenbekov hast been inaugurated as Kyrgyzstan's President during a ceremony in the state residence "Ala-Archa" on Thursday. The new head of state lauded the achievements of his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev. He further said that Bishkek must strengthen its strategic partnership with Russia which will hold the chairmanship of the Eurasian Economic Council next year. Jeenbekov moreover promised to strengthen the economy, ruthlessly fight corruption and counter nationalism and regional conflicts. (, 24 November)

Bishkek Says Uzbekistan Will Become Shareholder In Kambarata Hydro-Powerplant GES-1
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov said during a parliamentary session that Tashkent is ready to invest in the building of the Kambarata hydro-powerplant. "Following constructive negotiations, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Almazbek Atambayev worked out an advantageous compromise – Uzbekistan previously opposed the project and now supports it", Isakov said. He continued to explain that the hydro-powerplant project required the participation of neighboring countries as they are potential customers for its electricity. (, 23 November)

Kyrgyzstan Ready To Pressure Kazakhstan
Prime Minister Sapar Isakov said that Bishkek has the means to put pressure on Astana and could well make use of them. "Kyrgyzstan can sell water but we buy oil and gas while spending resources on maintenance of our hydroelectric plants. We are just giving away water during the spring and summer", the head of the government said while stressing that Bishkek does not wish to take extreme measures. "But if the situation escalates further, we will begin using all levers - there is little time left." Isakov also reported on the expediency of the Republic's economic diversification and further cooperation with Uzbekistan. (, 20 November)


Iran Ready To Export Gas To Tajikistan
The Speaker of Iran's Parliament Ali Larijani has stressed the need to attract investment in order to finance [infrastructure projects for] Iranian gas exports to Tajikistan. "This can become a turning point in the economic relations of our two countries", Larijani said during a meeting with a Tajik representative at the sidelines of the 10th plenary session of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. Trade between Iran and Tajikistan rose 15% in the first 10 month of this year when compared to the same period of 2016. (News Agency Shana, 24 November)

Tajikistan Plans To Buy Uzbek Gas In 2018
Dushanbe is planning to resume buying gas from Uzbekistan next year after a 5 year disruption. Currently, Tajikistan's gas distribution company is reviewing the demand of Tajik industry for natural gas – deliveries to households are not being considered. "Uztransgaz" and "Tajiktransgaz" held their first round of negotiations on the matter one month ago and also discussed revitalizing the Central Asian single energy system, including mutual deliveries of electricity. (Asia-Plus, 21 November)

EABR Reports Progress at Rogun Dam Construction
The Eurasian Development Bank positively evaluates the construction progress at the Rogun Dam. "Along with the normalization of Tajik-Uzbek relations, the procurement of $500 million at international financial markets can allow the Italian contractor to not only iron out previous delays but complete the power plant according to plan at the end of 2018", the macroeconomic review of EABR points out. The construction of the dam project is overseen by the Italian company Salinity Impregilo. In October of last year Dushanbe began with the construction of the $2bn stone dam project. (EABR Macroeconomic Review, 20 November)


Turkmen-Russian Economic Forum Held In Ashgabat
Turkmenistan's capital hosted the 4th Turkmen-Russian Economic Forum. The Russian delegation included specialists of state institutions and representatives of trading, energy, construction, car making and IT-industries from eight Russian regions, among them Tatarstan, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan and Belgorod. The delegation also visited the biggest industrial complexes of the country. The Turkmen side stresses that cooperation with Russia's great industrial centers is one of the priorities of Turkmenistan's economic policy. (Turkmen State News Agency, 26 November)

Turkmenistan Oversees Efforts To Deliver Electricity To Pakistan
Ashgabat is carrying out practical steps to organize electricity deliveries to Pakistan through Afghanistan. The issue was discussed during a working visit of Turkmen government officials to Kabul on 21-22 November. In order to deliver Turkmen electricity to Pakistan, the construction of 500kW overhead power and fiber lines through Afghanistan is currently being considered. Ashgabat today is already delivering electricity to Afghanistan at reduced prices. (Neutral Turkmenistan, 24 November)