Carnelutti Russia

Newsletter Central Asia and the Caucasus March 2022

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) supported Armenia's economy in 2021 with a record investment of approximately €175 million for banking, energy, and municipal transport projects. Investment in Armenia increased further, focusing on green, inclusive, and resilient recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The private sector accounted for approximately 90 percent of the EBRD's total investment in Armenia in 2021, and €106 million was under the EBRD's Green Economic Transition (GET) approach. As well as financing, the EBRD provided business advice to local SMEs by implementing 80 advisory and consultancy projects, three international advisory activities, and ten market-development activities and training sessions.

According to a statement, the UAE-government-owned Masdar renewable energy company has launched its first foreign investment-based independent solar power plant in Azerbaijan. The plant, set to open in 2023, will generate up to 500 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This is enough electricity to cater to an estimated 110,000 homes.

Georgia's energy consumption requires the country to build as many hydropower plants as possible. Electricity production in Georgia decreased by 5.9 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year and totaled 11,159.8 million kWh. The country's electricity consumption was also reduced in 2020 by 4.8 percent year-on-year, amounting to 11,479.3 million kWh.

Kazakhstan and the UAE agree on the implementation of new investment projects. Following business negotiations, an agreement was reached on implementing new joint investment projects in mining, petrochemistry, and renewable energy, the Kazakh MFA's press service reports.

OPEC and its allies remain in firm control of the oil market, key members Saudi Arabia and the UAE said on March 29, as the group prepares to meet to decide on May production levels amid an outcry from crude importing countries over tight supplies rising fuel prices. OPEC+ countries have contributed to the market tightness, with several members underproducing their quotas. Collectively, the group fell 1.053 million b/d short of its targets in February, according to the analysis prepared for ministers ahead of their meeting and seen by S&P Global Commodity Insights. Non-OPEC's second-largest producer Kazakhstan expects a significant drop in production in April following storm damage to loading facilities at the port of Novorossiisk.

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan plan to increase trade turnover to $2 billion, effectively doubling trade from 2021’s US$951 million. According to the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan, the trade turnover with Kyrgyzstan in 2021 amounted to $952 million (up 5% from the 2020s, US$907.2 million), with exports from Uzbekistan dominating – $791.1 million, with Kyrgyzstan exports to Uzbekistan standing at $161.5 million. Kyrgyzstan accounts for 2.3% of Uzbekistan’s foreign trade – it is the sixth-largest foreign trade partner after Russia (17.9%), China (17.7%), Kazakhstan (9.3%), Turkey (8.1%), and South Korea (4.5%).
The CIS and EAEU countries could soon be receiving a new wave of Russian manufacturing investment Sanctions. Tariff wars always result in the movement of cross-border businesses, most recently seen with China during the US trade war -the imposition of increased tariffs motivating many Chinese and other international investors based in the country to shift part, or all, of their production to neighboring Vietnam. Tajikistan has negotiated free trade agreements with CIS members and exports mainly Gold, Raw Aluminum, Raw Cotton, Zinc Ore, and other Ores, mainly to Turkey, Switzerland, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and China. It is looking to develop added value and processing facilities. If rail connectivity to China can be agreed upon, it would become a critical Belt and Road Initiative transit route between China and Central Asia.
Serdar Berdymukhamedov, 40, was inaugurated as Turkmenistan's third president on March 19, ending a transition process years in the making. The future shape of Sino-Turkmen cooperation will be one of the new President's biggest challenges.

The EU may have to bend some of its principles to obtain gas from Central Asia, while Russia and China will be warily looking out for the potential of Western-induced conflict over energy resources. The total natural gas reserves in Turkmenistan are estimated at 50 trillion cubic meters.

Turkey and Uzbekistan have set their sights on increasing bilateral trade to $5 billion within a year. Turkish companies' investments in Uzbekistan have reached $1.5 billion and highlighted that contracting companies had completed 241 projects worth $5 billion in Uzbekistan thus far.

A new thermal power plant with a capacity of 240MW has officially been commissioned in Uzbekistan. Built by Turkish firm Cengiz Enerji, it is located in the Kibray district of the Tashkent region and will produce 1.9 billion kWh of electricity per year. The $150 million (£114m) project employed around 600 workers during construction and post-commissioning and 100 new jobs have been created.