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  • 16 Jan 2018 3:53 PM | Anonymous

    President Poroshenko’s office rejects IMF criticism of his draft law to create an anti-corruption court, saying Monday evening: “All discussions about certain norms must be held within the legal framework in the Ukrainian parliament." Earlier in the day, news outlets published a letter to Ihor Rainin, head of the Poroshenko administration, from Ron van Rooden, IMF mission chief for Ukraine. “We have serious concerns about the draft law,” van Rooden wrote June 11, referring to the draft law. “Several provisions are not consistent with the authorities’ commitments under Ukraine’s IMF-supported program.” Analyst Timothy Ash writes: “[Poroshenko] obviously does not think Ukraine needs cheap IMF financing. It always amazed me to read analysis suggesting IMF disbursements in Q1 or earlier. As is, Ukraine will be lucky to get any IMF disbursements this side of elections next year."

    The hryvnia weakened by 1.6% over the first two weeks of January to UAH 28.5 to the dollar. This comes after the national currency only weakened by 3.1% during all of 2017, it’s most stable performance in four years. To prevent exchange rate spikes, the National Bank of Ukraine has injected $53.5 million into the banking system this month. Concorde Capital’s Evgeniya Akhtyrko writes: “By the end of 2018, we expect the hryvnia will touch UAH 29 to the dollar on the back of further current account deficit widening.”

    Rents in upscale Kyiv shopping centers rebounded last year by 23%, to $960 per square meters per year, the highest jump in the history of the local index, reports Jones Lang LaSalle, the real estate consultancy. At the same time, vacancies dropped by 6.5 percentage points, “a record drop in the annual vacancy rate,” JLL reports. Pressing the market, real wages in Kyiv increased last year by 11.3% and, for the first time in recent memory no new shopping centers opened. Due to construction delays, five new shopping centers are to open in 2018, adding 114,000 square meters of new retail space. Also, this year, Kyiv is to see several new international brand stores: De Facto, Decathlon, FLO, H & M, IKEA, Koton, and Zara Home.

    The average sale price for a Kyiv apartment fell 6% last year, to $977/square meter, consulting company SV Development tells UNIAN. While prices fell across the city, the lowest drop was in Podil, where prices fell by 4.4% to $905/square meter.

    Nuclear power production increased by 5.7% in 2017, Energoatom reports. About half of Ukraine’s power comes from its four nuclear power plants, a ratio topped in Europe only by France. Last year, the nation’s 15 nuclear reactors produced 85 billion kWh.

    Despite foreign press reports that imply that Ukraine has a high crime rate, the number of murders is one third the level of 20 years ago, Viacheslav Abroskin, deputy chief of Ukraine's National Police writes on Facebook. In 1997, 4,529 people were murdered in Ukraine, three times as many as the 1,551 murders recorded in 2017. He wrote: "In 2017, culprits were identified in 1,387 out of 1,551 murder cases, while 466 cases were solved that had been dragging over the years." Last November, The Wall Street Journal started a feature story: “Bodies are piling up in Kiev...” Last week, The New York Times published a lengthy story on the murder of Iryna Nozdrovska, the human rights lawyer

  • 16 Jan 2018 9:23 AM | Anonymous

    Xinhua, January 11, 2018

    Crude oil imports from Kazakhstan to China through a transnational pipeline hit a new record high last year, PetroChina West Pipeline Company said Thursday.

    The China-Kazakhstan pipeline carried 12.3 million tonnes of crude oil into the world's second-largest economy in 2017, up 23.2 percent year on year, the pipeline operator said.

    The crude oil production cuts by OPEC members in early 2017 drove up crude prices, and oil producers in Kazakhstan then increased exports, it said.

    The pipeline runs more than 2,800 kilometers from the city of Atyrau to Atasu in Kazakhstan via the Alataw pass in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the PetroChina Dushanzi Petrochemical Company, one of China's major petrochemical producers. It became operational in 2006.

  • 16 Jan 2018 9:21 AM | Anonymous

    Anurag Thukral, CEO of Australia's STARIN Investments and Developments, says that the State-of-the-Nation Address of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev "The New Development Opportunities amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution" will pave the way for making Kazakhstan one of the world's industrial and business centers, Kazinform special correspondent in China reports.

    "The priority tasks as outlined in 10 important areas by the President Nazarbayev in his Address is a great vision of a great leader of Kazakhstan. It shows how a strong dream and a powerful vision of a true leader paves a strong foundation to build a strong nation. Going through the priority program one can easily see that this program will benefit and improve the life of an ordinary Kazakh.

    As this program gets implemented Kazakhstan will be a leading country internationally and every citizen will be a proud Kazakh," he said. In sharing the vision of President Nazarbayev, as implementation of the President's priority program unfolds, the Australian businessman noted that it is easy to see Kazakhstan industry and its businesses becoming leaders.

    The program would lead to increased labour productivity, improved quality, would encourage new business start-ups and enhance industrial output through modern and innovative technologies. "This initiative of the President will definitely make Kazakhstan an industrial and business force which is strong competent and market leader.

    Development and smart management of infrastructure and transportation systems as initiated by the President would enhance international confidence, increase connectivity and ensure timely delivery of goods and services. Efficient material handling and lowered transportation costs would increase profitability and export," he underlined.

    According to Anurag Thukral, President Nazarbayev has his eyes on making Kazakhstan a smart nation. A smart nation would use its resources and energy efficiently, reduce operational and management costs and overheads. "A greater connectivity would encourage international and national businesses to have improved confidence. An efficient and reliable connectivity and access to the world financial, economic, political and latest technological systems would keep Kazakh businesses in line with the world trends. The vision of President Nazarbayev for a smart nation would place Kazakhstan on the world map in gold," he said.

    Mr. Thukral highlighted that the President is asking Kazakh administration and public bodies to effectively participate in nation building by simplifying administrative procedures. "He is encouraging innovation and development of public policies that would encourage businesses and would improve life of the citizens. An efficient administration would demonstrate national pride, and adopting systems that demonstrate integrity would improve confidence of ordinary citizen when working with public bodies. The President wants administration to be accountable of their actions and prepare for self-governance. This is a great initiative that shows that the President's policies are down to earth and he understands the needs and the difficulties of a citizen," the Australian businessman added.

    He noted that President Nazarbayev has placed a great emphasis on health and welfare of citizens of Kazakhstan as a healthy nation is a strong nation. "When the top leader of the nation has his focus on improving the life and living standard of its citizens, the citizens would have greater pride and passion, the citizen would give back to the nation by staying within the country. An improved healthy environment, greater employment opportunities, improved medical systems, healthy living and enhanced possibilities of growth and satisfaction of achieving professionally and financially will encourage the young generation to stay in Kazakhstan. The retained young talented workforce would be the biggest and most valuable national asset Kazakhstan will have for all times. I can clearly see that the implementation of the President's program will make every Kazakh patriotic," Anurag Thukral summarized.

  • 12 Jan 2018 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Canadian exporters with long histories of doing business in Russia are urging the federal government to help them compete with foreign rivals that they insist are profiting from Ottawa’s particularly rigid approach to international sanctions.

    Companies say they’re losing ground because, unlike other countries that have imposed sanctions directed at Moscow, Canada went a step further by removing its export credit agency from the Russian market in 2014.

    The absence of Export Development Canada’s services, which include important supports like trade insurance, has led to a retreat of Canadian business from Russia.

    Canadian firms say the vacuum has helped open up new opportunities for competitors from places like the United States, Europe and Japan, where export credit agencies continue to support local businesses with interests in Russia, despite similar sanctions by their governments.

    While in most cases the issue is overshadowed by apprehension over NAFTA, it remains a key worry for some Canadian sectors. Canada’s exports to Russia — $600 million in 2016 — pale when compared to bigger partnerships like the U.S.

    But for some Canadians, Russia was a top market until the federal government called on EDC to withdraw its services.

    Industry associations call it an uneven playing field for Canadian firms that export products to Russia — everything from toasters to construction material to agricultural equipment.

    The president of the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada discussed the issue this week with some of her members at a major farm show in Saskatoon. Leah Olson said Russia was a significant market for Canadian farming equipment, particularly since the countries share similar harsh climates.

    “With Canadian firms having to pull back … they’ve been seeing lots of their competitors now in the region,” said Olson, whose group represents nearly 300 manufacturers and suppliers.

    Ben Voss, president and CEO of a Saskatchewan-based agricultural manufacturer, said up until 2014, there were years when more than half of the sales from his company, Morris Industries Ltd., were in Russia.

    The country remains important to his firm because it still has 1,000 customers there, but sales to Russia now represent less than 10 per cent of his business.

    “The European countries and even the Americans, ironically, are imposing sanctions — very strict sanctions — but then they’re still allowing lots of their domestic, economic activity to continue unprohibited,” Voss said in an interview.

    “Whereas Canada seems to think that it was necessary to say, ‘We’re putting sanctions in and then we’re going to go one step further.”‘

    Voss, who has raised the issue directly with International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, said he has the impression the government is open to finding a solution.

    “It’s just a very delicate issue,” Voss said. “I think the previous government was much more hardlined on this.”

    Champagne is aware of industry concerns about the uneven application of sanctions and how firms have been stung by the discrepancies, according to a recently released briefing note.

    The document, obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, was prepared for Champagne last spring ahead of a meeting with the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association, which promotes trade and investment in the region.

    “Canada is working in close co-ordination with its partners in order to maintain sanctions against Russia in response to illegal actions in Ukraine and Syria,” read suggested speaking points for Champagne in the memo.

    “We don’t intend to put sticks in the spokes of legitimate businesses, although we recognize that sometimes sanctions have this involuntary effect…. Unfortunately, there have been some involuntary negative repercussions on Canadian companies. This was not our objective.”

    If pressed on why EDC pulled its services for the Russian market, the document recommended Champagne respond by saying he didn’t know when they would be reinstated. The note also suggested he explain that Canada is continually speaking with its G7 and European partners to ensure, as much as possible, that they have a co-ordinated approach when it comes the sanctions.

    “However, individual export credit agencies are taking directions from their respective governments and we are aware that they are allowing these business transactions to continue,” the document said.

    Phil Taylor, a spokesman for EDC, said the agency was instructed in 2014 to stop conducting business in Russia — and any change to this position would come at the direction of the trade minister.

    Sebastien Dakin, the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association’s director for Ottawa and Montreal, said in an email that some companies have worked for many years developing their business relationships in Russia.

    “In many cases, the business is threatened if not already lost, and will not come back easily,” Dakin wrote.

    “This service is really helpful for companies, mainly when you do not have permanent representation on the ground. At the moment, Canadian trade commissioners are confined to a reactive role and companies are pretty much on their own, which is far from ideal on a far and challenging market such as Russia.”

  • 05 Jan 2018 12:40 PM | Anonymous

    Uzbekistan will purchase 5,778 units of equipment for agricultural needs of the country in the first half of 2018.

    Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree “On additional measures to further improve the technical equipment of agriculture” on January 4.

    The document notes that the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources jointly with Uzagrotehsanoatholding JSC determined the primary need for the supply of modern arable and tilled tractors, combine harvesters, plows, seeders and other agricultural equipment for the spring agrotechnical work in 2018 in the amount of only 5,778 units, including 758 arable tractors, 1,500 tilled tractors, 330 horticultural tractors.

    In addition, 2,790 units of hinged and trailed agricultural machinery, as well as 400 combine harvesters will be also purchased, according to the decree.

    In particular, it is planned to purchase John Deere, Belarus, T-7060, T-6070 tractors, CASE, Vector, Dominator 130 grain harvesters, plows, seeders, sprayers, cultivators, etc.

    The delivery of agricultural equipment is carried out at the expense of credits of Agrobank, own funds of farms and machine and tractor parks, as well as loans provided to machine and tractor parks from Uzagrotehsanoatholding and Uzagroservis.

    The Uzbek leader recommended Agrobank to issue loans to farms and machine and tractor parks that are part of Uzagroservis JSC for a period of 10 years at a rate of 5 percent per annum under security (guarantee, pledge of property) of Uzagrotehsanoatholding and organizations in its composition.

    Uzbekistan's economy depends heavily on agricultural production. Last year the volume of gross agricultural production in Uzbekistan reached 47.4 trillion soums. As of January 1, 2017, the number of operating farms exceeded 132,000 and dekhkan farms - 4.7 million.

    In total, 8.2 million tons of grain, 2.9 million tons of potatoes, 11.2 million tons of vegetables, over 3 million tons of fruits and berries, 1.7 million tons of grapes, 2 million tons of melons and 2.9 million tons of raw cotton were produced in the country last year.

    Because of the risks associated with a one-crop economy as well as from considerations of food security for the population, Uzbekistan has been trying to diversify its production of other agricultural products, while reducing cotton production.

    The Central Asian nation intends to decrease production and public procurement of raw cotton up to 3 million tons by 2020.

    Thus, Uzbekistan aims to increase production of grain crops up to 8.5 million tons with the growth rate of 16.4 percent by 2020 due to optimization of lands and introduction of modern agriculture technologies. It is also planned to increase production of potatoes by 35 percent, other vegetables by 30 percent, fruits and grapes 21.5 percent, meat by 26.2 percent, milk by 47.3 percent, eggs by 74.5 percent and fish by 2.5 times.

  • 22 Dec 2017 3:42 PM | Anonymous

    Forbes has compiled ranking of the best countries for doing business. In the ranking, which assessed 53 countries on 15 criteria, Uzbekistan was ranked the 99th, between Lebanon and Iran.

    Uzbekistan is the world's fifth largest exporter of cotton and the seventh largest producer.

    Growth in Uzbekistan is mainly driven by public investment, while the export of natural gas, gold and cotton provide a significant share of foreign exchange earnings. Given the need to improve the investment climate, the government is taking additional steps to reform the business sector and remove obstacles to foreign investment in the country, experts note.

    The rating of the best countries for doing business evaluates the countries by various factors, which include: property rights, the degree of innovation, the level of taxation, technology, the level of corruption, freedom (personal, commercial and financial), bureaucracy and investor protection. All categories are equal in importance.

  • 16 Dec 2017 1:38 PM | Anonymous

    The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved US$ 15 million in additional financing to support the ongoing Agriculture Commercialization Project in Tajikistan. The project aims to expand opportunities for Tajik farmers and enterprises to increase productivity and access to domestic and international markets.

    “Taking advantage of the considerable export opportunities for agricultural and food products made in Tajikistan, the project supports entrepreneurial efforts to increase productivity and employment opportunities in rural regions of Tajikistan,” said Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager in Tajikistan. “Rural business development, including with programs to expand access to finance, support new startups, and provide rural entrepreneurs with relevant business skills, is a key instrument to foster innovation, facilitate trade, support domestic job creation in emerging rural economies.”

    The original Tajikistan Agriculture Commercialization Project, financed by a grant of US$ 22 million from the International Development Association (IDA), has been supporting the commercialization of farm and agri-business products, by improving the performance of selected value chains, increasing access to finance and strengthening the capacity of small farmers, medium-scale agribusinesses, and producer associations.

    To date, the project has supported over 1,000 individual farmers and small- and medium-sized enterprises with a total of US$ 3.3 million. The project is also providing support to value chains for fresh and dried apricot and dairy, having trained over 3,000 farmers on improved (post)-production technologies and market access. The first ten grants that have been approved have allowed groups of small-holder farmers to connect to the project-supported value chains. Institutional capacity building is under way to support agricultural education establishments, the project’s participating financial institutions, and the National Statistics Agency of Tajikistan.

    “The agricultural sector plays a major role in economic growth and poverty reduction in Tajikistan,” said Sandra Broka, Team Leader for the Agriculture Commercialization Project. “With additional financing, the project’s approach—access to knowledge coupled with financing—will be expanded beyond agriculture and agribusiness to other types of rural sub-sectors and businesses, so that there are more opportunities for income generation and job creation.”

    With additional financing approved, the project will also support activities aimed at increasing the amount of credit line available for agribusinesses, making a matching grant program available to support the entrance of new and young enterprises to the market and supporting capacity building for existing microcredit institutions on rural business financing, as well as for selected smaller micro-finance institutions with good potential to grow.  

    The World Bank’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 19 projects, with a net commitment of US$ 615.9 million. The World Bank Group remains committed to supporting Tajikistan as it strives to improve the lives of its people and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population. 

  • 15 Dec 2017 5:14 PM | Anonymous

    Chinese Wanbang will invest $500 million to implement projects in the agriculture sector of Uzbekistan.

    To this end, the sides signed an agreement within the framework of the visit of the Chinese delegation to the republic held recently.

    The document was signed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources and Uzbekkozovaktovholding company.

    The agreements envisage the joint implementation of more than 15 projects in such areas as the production, processing and packaging of agricultural products, including livestock products, as well as the export, import and re-export of finished products.

    The parties plan to create logistics centers and facilities for processing agricultural products in the free economic zones of Uzbekistan on an area of 10,000 hectares. In addition, it is planned to supply 100,000 tons of Uzbek masha to the Middle Kingdom.

    During the visit, representatives of the company visited Tashkent, Samarkand, Djizzak, Syrdarya regions and expressed a desire to develop long-term partnership with the country.

    China is a key investor in Central Asian region. Today, Wanbang cooperates with more than 50 countries of the world and occupies 37 percent of the total food market of China.

    Uzbekistan's economy depends heavily on agricultural production. Last year the volume of gross agricultural production in Uzbekistan reached 47.4 trillion soums. As of January 1, 2017, the number of operating farms exceeded 132,000 and dekhkan farms - 4.7 million.

    In total, 8.2 million tons of grain, 2.9 million tons of potatoes, 11.2 million tons of vegetables, over 3 million tons of fruits and berries, 1.7 million tons of grapes, 2 million tons of melons and 2.9 million tons of raw cotton were produced in the country last year.

    Because of the risks associated with a one-crop economy as well as from considerations of food security for the population, Uzbekistan has been trying to diversify its production of other agricultural products, while reducing cotton production.

    The Central Asian nation intends to decrease production and public procurement of raw cotton up to 3 million tons by 2020.

    Thus, Uzbekistan aims to increase production of grain crops up to 8.5 million tons with the growth rate of 16.4 percent by 2020 due to optimization of lands and introduction of modern agriculture technologies. It is also planned to increase production of potatoes by 35 percent, other vegetables by 30 percent, fruits and grapes 21.5 percent, meat by 26.2 percent, milk by 47.3 percent, eggs by 74.5 percent and fish by 2.5 times.

  • 15 Dec 2017 5:11 PM | Anonymous

    The Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a new loan to Uzbekistan for $450 million.

    These funds will be used to install additional generating equipment with a capacity of 850 to 950 MW at the Talimarjan thermal power plant in Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan. Such attention to the modernization of one of the largest TPPs of the country is explained by the fact that the demand for electricity in the republic is constantly growing.

    The project provides for the expansion of the station by installing additional combined cycle gas turbines with generation of heat. The supplier for the new combined cycle generating unit is Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation. The new turbines will also increase the total capacity of the facility up to 2600 MW and raise the heat efficiency from 48 to 52 percent. The project will also reduce the cost of electricity produced at the plant by 30 percent.

    In October 2016, the first combined-cycle plant with a capacity of 450 megawatts was put into operation at the Talimarjan thermal power plant, and in February 2017 -- the second one. Their work allowed each year to produce an additional 7 billion kWh of electricity. In August, two more combined cycle facilities with a capacity of 450 megawatts each were launched.

    In addition, ADB will provide 2 million dollars for free, which will be used to improve the financial stability of Uzbekenergo and increase the efficiency of the tariff system in the power industry.

    The total cost of the project is estimated at more than $860 million. In March 2013, Daewoo and Hyundai companies - the winners of the tender announced by the Uzbekenergo JSC, signed a contract to modernize the Talimarjan thermal power plant.

    The sources of financing will be funds attracted from ADB, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as well as from the Fund for Reconstruction and Development of Uzbekistan.

    Uzbekistan is the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Total installed capacity of Uzbekistan's power plants exceeds 12.4 GW. Twelve thermal power plants, with a combined capacity of over 10.7 GW, and 31 hydro power plants, with a combined capacity of 1.7 GW, belonging to the Uzbekenergo, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Mining and Metallurgical Company Almalyk and the Uzkhimprom Association, constitute the backbone of the electricity sector.

    Uzbekistan joined the ADB in August 1995. The ADB program in Uzbekistan has provided loans, grants and technical assistance to grow the country's economy and improve the lives of people, particularly the poor, women, children and other vulnerable groups.

  • 15 Dec 2017 5:09 PM | Anonymous

    The United States will assist Uzbekistan in its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Trade reported.

    A meeting with the assistant to the U.S. Trade Representative for Central and South Asia, Mark Linscott, was held at the ministry, during which the parties discussed issues of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO.

    In addition, the issues related to Uzbekistan's membership in the general system of U.S. tariff preferences and legal protection of intellectual property was considered in detail.

    "Agreements on the assistance of the American side, including the technical one, in the process of Uzbekistan's accession to the WTO were reached. In order to promote these issues in practice, permanent contacts between the responsible officials of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the office of the U.S. trade mission will be established," the ministry noted.

    During his recent trip to South Korea, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced that Uzbekistan is renewing its work on WTO accession.

    A memorandum and a road map have been signed between the governments of the two countries on Korea's assistance to Uzbekistan in the matters of joining this organization, including by assessing the consequences of entry, examination of national legislation in accordance with the requirements of WTO agreements, as well as technical, consultative and expert support to the ministries and departments concerned.

    There are 164 members of the World Trade Organization. That's 84 percent of the 196 countries in the world.

    They enjoy the privileges that other member-countries give to them and the security that the trading rules provide. In return, they had to make commitments to open their markets and to abide by the rules - those commitments were the result of the membership (or "accession") negotiations.