Caspian Weekly Roundup
Rouhani Says Iran Will Sell Oil and Break U.S. Sanctions
Iran will continue to sell its oil and violate sanctions imposed by the United States, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani made the statement at a meeting broadcast live on state television on Monday, November 5. “America wanted to cut to zero Iran’s oil sales… but we will continue to sell our oil… to break sanction,” Rouhani said.
The sanctions target Iran’s energy and banking sectors, both vital to Iran’s economy. The sanctions are aimed at discouraging business between Iran and third countries. The U.S. has granted waivers to eight states, including India, permitting them to purchase oil from Iran. However, many European countries, Japan, and South Korea stopped buying oil from Iran already.
Azerbaijan and Denmark Have Opportunities for Cooperation in Energy Efficiency
Danish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Svend Olling noted the opportunity for Denmark and Azerbaijan to cooperate in energy efficiency. Denmark has advanced technologies in the field of green energy and is eager to spread the technologies for green energy production and consumption to other countries.
Azerbaijan, with its vast oil and gas reserves, is not lacking energy sources. “Still, the concern for the climate is something that makes enhanced cooperation in the field of clean energy relevant worldwide. It is a responsibility for all nations to do their best to lower carbon emissions,” according to Olling.
Olling noted that investing in clean energy is an important step in reducing carbon emissions, but oil and gas still play an important role as energy sources. Cooperation between Denmark and Azerbaijan could take place in several forms, including “partnerships, where knowhow and technology is transferred from experts to local partners, and projects are conducted in accordance with local conditions and economy.”
Date for Intergovernmental Agreement on IGB Decided
The intergovernmental agreement between Greece and Bulgaria on the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline is to be adopted in the first half of 2019. The agreement will establish the tax framework for the project.
The project company, ICGB AD, has created a Head of Terms Document for facilitating negotiations with the Bulgarian and Greece Tax Authorities. The Head of Terms details the clauses to be included in the intergovernmental agreement. After passing several rounds of revision from the Bulgarian and Greek tax administrations, the Head of Terms was submitted for a review to the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission.
“The aligned version of the Head of Terms was submitted for approval to the Council of Ministers in Bulgaria. The meeting of the Council of Ministers in Bulgaria was held on Sept.12, and the term sheet was accepted. Similar actions are expected to be carried out also in Greece,” said Teodora Georgieva, Executive Officer of ICGB AD.
The final step will be the ratification of the agreement by the parliaments of both countries is expected the take place in early 2019. IGB will deliver Azerbaijani gas from Shah Deniz 2 to Bulgaria. IGB is expected to connect to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, which will deliver gas to European markets. The initial capacity of IGB will be 3 billion cubic meters.
U.S. Includes SGC in Exception List of Iran Sanctions
The United States has listed the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) project as an exemption on Iran sanctions. The exemption says that “anti-Iran restrictions are not applied to persons who commit or assist transactions related to projects… aimed at developing (deposits of) natural gas and building and operating a pipeline for transporting natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Europe.”
The document says that the exemptions include projects that are vital to the energy security and energy independence of Turkey and Europe from Russia and Iran. The SGC, a $40 billion project, is a priority project for the EU. It will bring 10 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas from Shah Deniz 2 to Europe.
U.S. Iran Sanctions Take Effect
On Monday, 180 days after President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), sanctions against Iran’s oil, shipping, and banking sectors went back into effect, marking the complete return of all pre-JCPOA measures. The U.S. intended for the sanctions to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
Eight Countries Get Temporary Oil Waivers from U.S. Sanctions
A statement from the U.S. Treasury Department said the Iranian sanctions targeted more than 200 individuals and companies in Iran’s shipping and energy sectors — including the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and its 23 subsidiaries and associated individuals, as well as 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries.
As part of the round of measures, the White House has warned Iran’s customers they must reduce their purchases of oil to zero or face U.S. penalties, although it has issued 180-day waivers to eight countries that will allow them to continue importing Iranian oil. Pompeo said the temporary oil waivers had been granted to China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Japan, and Taiwan.
EU Security Delegation Visits Azerbaijan
The EU sent a delegation to Baku on Saturday for a security dialogue between Azerbaijan and the EU. Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service Jean-Christophe Belliard led the delegation, which met with Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov, Deputy Head of Foreign Policy Affairs of Azerbaijan’s Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev, and other officials. The dialogue resulted from February’s EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council meeting and discussed regional security issues such as a terrorism, separatism, transnational organized crime, trafficking, and cybercrime.
Commonwealth of Independent States Holds Head of Government Council
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) heads of government met in Astana on Friday. The CIS members – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – discussed issues of mutual importance, particularly trade and economic relations. Meetings occurred in both narrow and extended format.
Kazakhstan and Russia May Build Nuclear Power Plant
Russian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Alexey Borodavkin told Sputnik that Russia is ready to help Kazakhstan construct a Russian-style nuclear power plant. The countries signed a memorandum of understanding on constructing a plant in 2014, but never moved forward with a construction plan. In fact, constructing a nuclear power plant has been on Kazakhstan’s radar since 2006, but the potential costs prevented any concrete developments.
Kazakhstan Sends Peacekeepers to UN in Lebanon
Kazakhstan sent 120 peacekeepers to support the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), putting the mission’s total strength to 10,600 people from 42 countries. The new Kazakh peacekeepers will join an existing Indian battalion. Kazakhstan and India signed a memorandum of understanding on their troops joint participation in the operation.
Meeting on Afghanistan Will Take Place in Moscow on November 9th
Russian Foreign Ministry reported on November 3rd that a meeting on Afghanistan will occur in Moscow on November 9th. The deputy foreign ministers level meeting will be the second of its kind and the representatives of the Taliban radical movement are expected to attend for the first time. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is sending Afghan delegation of the High Council to the meeting while other invitations to the countries of India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the U.S. and others were also sent.
Initially, the meeting was scheduled to take place on September 4th, however, later it was re-arranged. The U.S. side has declined to participate thus far.
Prime Minister Medvedev’s Visit to China Will Result in a Number of Agreements Signed
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will visit the People’s Republic of China on November 5-7th. A solid package with a number of intergovernmental, interdepartmental, and corporate documents is expected to be signed during Medvedev’s visit. This will be the 23rd regular visit between the heads of states of the two countries. Aside from meeting with Premier Li Keqiang who officially invited his Russian counterpart to China, Medvedev will also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the first day of his visit to Shanghai. Both officials will take part in the opening ceremony of the First China International Exhibition of Imported Goods.
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan Discuss Joint Infrastructure Projects
A meeting with Mohammad Homayoun Qayumi, Acting Finance Minister of Afghanistan has been held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry said in a statement. During the meeting, special attention was paid to the implementation of important joint infrastructure projects, such as the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and the use of the first phase of the “International Asian Railway Transport Corridor” Kerki-Imamnazar (Turkmenistan) – Akina (Afghanistan).
The sides reaffirmed the mutual commitment of the two countries to further intensify the bilateral dialogue, discussed the situation in the region and the priorities for the development of Turkmen-Afghan cooperation in various fields. Among the priority themes, the parties noted the important role of interstate cooperation in the trade-economic, fuel-energy, transport and cultural-humanitarian fields.
Uzbekistan Eyes to Increase Trade Turnover with Iran Over Twofold
Increasing trade with Iran to $1 billion is one of the top priorities for the government of Uzbekistan, Mehr News reported citing Bahodir Abdullayev, the Uzbek ambassador to Iran, as saying at a meeting with representatives of Iranian private companies in Arak, in the Markazi province. Talking about the determination of the presidents of the two countries to increase the volume of trade from $400 million to $1 billion at their last year’s meeting in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, the ambassador stressed that achieving this goal is one of the priorities of Uzbekistan. The ambassador noted that there are good opportunities in the Markazi province in the sphere of building materials, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, and added that Uzbekistan is ready to cooperate and increase trade with this province.
Transport Issues on Agenda of Azerbaijan, UAE Cooperation
Transport issues were on the agenda during the latest visit of Azerbaijani Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies Ramin Guluzade to the UAE, where he held a meeting with Minister of Infrastructure Development of the UAE Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi. The sides discussed the strengthening of bilateral relations between the UAE and Azerbaijan, in particular, in the field of infrastructure and transport. Al Nuaimi touched upon the achievements of the UAE in the field of infrastructure and transport and plans to become one of the leading countries of the world by 2021. He also highly appreciated the common bilateral relations between the two countries, stressing the importance of sharing experience in the field of infrastructure and transport. Guluzade, in turn, spoke about the successes of Azerbaijan and new projects that contribute to the development of infrastructure and transport in the country.
Israeli Company to Build Poultry Factory in Uzbekistan
The Israeli company Levia Group will build a poultry factory in the Andijan region of Uzbekistan with a production capacity of 14,000 tons of broiler meat per year, Uzbek media reported. In May 2018, a visit was carried out by specialists from Israel to the Andijan region to familiarize with the proposed location of the factory. During the visit, representatives of the Levia Group inspected and approved a land plot for construction. Following the negotiations, a memorandum was signed between the Levia Group and the Uzbek agricultural holding company O’zbekoziqovqatxolding on the establishment of a joint venture of the poultry factory of meat production. The preliminary cost of construction will be $46 million.
Solar Power Plant to Appear in Kazakhstan’s Turkistan Region
Construction of the Zadarya-1 solar power plant in the Arys city of Kazakhstan’s Turkistan region has begun, Turkistan Invest reported. The project worth more than 7 billion tenge will be implemented at the expense of foreign investments. The capacity of the solar power plant will be 14 megawatts. “A land plot of 30 hectares was allocated for the construction of the solar power plant, on which the project company KazGreenTekSolar LLP began construction and installation work in mid-October,” the message reads.
Uzbekistan-Ukrainian Trade Turnover Increases
Uzbek-Ukrainian trade turnover increased by 54.1 percent and reached $268.4 million in January-August, Uzbek media reported quoting Ukrainian ambassador to Uzbekistan Yuri Savchenko. The ambassador noted that the trade turnover between the countries is growing and it deserves the highest positive assessment. “This year, the growth of Ukrainian exports is more intense than last year, the growth of Uzbek exports. Mainly because of sugar and some other goods,” the ambassador underlined. During the reporting period, Ukrainian exports to Uzbekistan reached $187.4 million, an increase of 83.6 percent, while imports of Uzbek products from Ukraine exceeded $81.1 million, an increase of 12.4 percent.
Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan to Create Intergovernmental Commission on Transport Cooperation
President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov instructed to take steps to establish an intergovernmental Turkmen-Azerbaijani commission to discuss issues of cooperation in the field of transport, detailed study and timely solution of all relevant tasks, Turkmen media reports. The instruction was given during the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. The head of the Turkmen state emphasized the importance of creating an international transport corridor Lazurit, which, while passing through the territory of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, will strengthen productive cooperation in a wide geo-economic area, including the regions of Central and South Asia, the Caspian and Black Sea basins, the Mediterranean.
Hyundai Motors to Enter Uzbekistan Thanks to Economic Reforms
Hyundai Motor Company Korea will enter the market of Uzbekistan from 2019, Kazakh media outlet kursiv.kz reported citing Director of Hyundai Auto Kazakhstan Denis Kolomatsky. According to him, the company has already received the distribution rights and is currently carrying out organizational work. “We are completing the internal certification now. We are delivering cars, completing the work on opening the first dealership center and are planning to start full-scale work from the beginning of 2019. Since we will be represented there as distributors, not manufacturers, at the initial stage we will not sell vehicles of Kazakhstan assembly, although negotiations are underway,” Kolomatsky noted.
(Sources: Al Jazeera, The Astana Times, AzerNews, Caspian News, France24, In-Depth News, Ria, Tass, and Trend.Az)