Media Highlights of the Week
Energy and Economy
Fourth Industrial Revolution Affiliate Center Set to Open in Kazakhstan
The Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) signed a letter of intent to complete a Fourth Industrial Revolution affiliate center at the Davos Forum. The center will stimulate technological advances in the region by encouraging cooperation and investment from Central Asian governments and corporations. This new development will elevate Kazakhstan’s role in the technology sector and improve innovation within the region.
The International Finance Corporation Expresses Interest in Cooperating with Azerbaijan
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has expressed their interest to work closely with Azerbaijan to reform its development and energy sectors. Future cooperation between the two parties could result in expanding the usage of renewable energy sources, improving production capacities, and attracting greater flows of private investment to fund projects.
Uzbekistan’s President Announces New Reforms to Combat Economic Issues
Uzbekistan’s president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s state-of-the-nation address announced his intention to reduce long-term economic issues in the country, including poverty and corruption. He spoke of his desire to work with global entities such as the World Bank, the United Nations, and other international organizations to create a poverty-reduction force that will tackle long-term economic issues arguably stemming from Uzbekistan’s continued use of Soviet-style perestroika reforms. Furthermore, he said that he will develop a new anti-corruption force that will be answerable only to the president and parliament to enforce his initiative.
Agreement on the Construction of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Power Line Signed
An agreement on the cooperation between the Ministry of Energy of Turkmenistan and TAPP-500 Power Transmission Line FZE to construct a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) power transmission line was signed. The project will allow Turkmenistan to export electricity to Pakistan and other South Asian countries through Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan to Export 1.4 Billion Dollars’ Worth of Uranium to Japan
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree to export 1.4 billion USD worth of uranium to Japan between 2023-2030. Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine (NGMK) is the only producer of natural uranium in the country and will oversee export to Japan. These exports are expected to constitute over 90 percent of MGMK’s total exports.
Kazakhstan Bans Live Animal Exports in Favor of Supporting Domestic Processing Plants
Kazakhstan will impose a ban on live animal exports according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Approximately 156,000 head of cattle and 264,000 head of sheep were exported in 2019 with its largest buyers being Uzbekistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. Proponents of the ban argue that it will stimulate local meat processing enterprises who are currently experiencing a shortage of raw produce and help lower domestic meat prices.
Politics and Security
U.S. Secretary of State to Visit Central Asia
On Jan. 30, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Pompeo plans to meet with the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev; the former President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev; and Kazakh Foreign Minister, Mukhtar Tileuberdi to discuss plans for reaffirming their dedication to ensuring regional success. In Uzbekistan, Pompeo is to convene with the foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to discuss plans for effective regional connectivity.
President of Uzbekistan Announces New Citizenship Rules
The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has announced that Uzbekistan will now allow residents of Uzbekistan, who have lived in the country since 1995, to obtain Uzbek citizenship. This law is projected to grant around 50,000 people citizenship. He also announced plans for nullifying a Soviet law that prevented Uzbeks living in rural areas to obtain work in the capital, Tashkent. In the past, this internal migration barrier has pushed many Uzbek nationals to seek work in other countries and its abolishment will strengthen the incentive for Uzbeks to work in Uzbekistan.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Visits Brussels Before New EU-Kazakh Agreement
Kazakh Foreign minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi visited Brussels to take part in the meeting of the Cooperation Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the EU. The council concluded the EU-Kazakhstan Advanced Partnership Cooperation Agreement (ECPA) that will enter into force on March 1. The new ECPA is designed to increase economic and political ties between the EU and Kazakhstan.
Uzbekistan Adds More Content to Banned Material and Websites
Uzbekistan updated their banned content list to include religious literature, websites, social media pages of religious figures, and outlawed organizations. The majority of the newly banned content is connected to different interpretations of political Islam or criticisms of how religion is controlled by the government.
Kazakhstan and UAE Sign Cooperation Agreements
During the official visit of President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to the United Arab Emirates, both countries signed cooperation agreements in the spheres of trade, energy, and finance. They discussed cooperation in agriculture, transport, petrochemicals, and investment.
Green Central Asia To Be Launched at a Berlin Conference This Week
Green Central Asia is an initiative supported by the European Union’s strategy on Central Asia adopted last year to foster regional cooperation to take preventative measures to curb climate change and its effects in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The initiative aims to improve greater access to information on climate change and its negative impacts on Central Asian industries and to provide countries in the region with the necessary support to take action against its impacts. The initiative is projected to launch at the “Green Central Asia” conference in Berlin on January 28, 2020.
1374 Candidates Running for Parliamentary Election in Azerbaijan
Among 2431 initially registered candidates, 1374 will continue running in the parliamentary election in Azerbaijan scheduled for February 9, 2020. As the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan reports, 409 international observers and 55,492 local observers have passed accreditation to participate in the upcoming election.
(Sources: AKI Press, Armen Press, Astana Times, AzerNews, Eurasianet, RFE/RL, Times of Central Asia)