Category Archives: Uncategorised

Markets-Stocks steady

JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Stocks of companies registered on foreign stock exchanges bounced around levels they have held for some time. The only significant mover was Georgia Capital, the beer-to-healthcare conglomerate, which shed 6.5% of its value. This follows similar losses last week. Analysts have said that the fall is linked to profit-taking.

Other losers include Kaspi.kz, the Kazakh fintech company, and Kazatomprom, the Kazakh uranium miner. Again, analysts have said that their losses can be linked to recent rises and profit-taking.

Some stocks did rise, but not by much. Centerra Gold, the Toronto-listed company that owns the Kumtor gold mine, or at least did until it was expropriated by the Kyrgyz government saw its share price rise by nearly 1%. 

Anglo Asian Mining, the Azerbaijan-focused gold miner, saw its share price increase by 1.5%.

Georgia’s TBC Bank also saw a small increase in its stock value.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Markets – Armenian dram and Georgian lari both push up

JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — The Armenian dram and the Georgian lari both climbed by 1.5% to their highest levels for several months. Analysts said that a raft of positive economic news and GDP growth estimates from the likes of the IMF have strengthened belief in their economies.

For Armenia, the value of 487.1/$1 is its highest level since September last year, before a war against Azerbaijan. At the start of the year, the dram was valued at 522/$1, which means that it has risen in value by nearly 7%.

As for the Georgian lari, it is now valued at 3.0862/$1, which is its highest level also since September last year before a disputed parliamentary election. In March it was valued at 3.3326/$1, a rise of 7.4%. Despite fast-rising inflation, the IMF said that Georgia’s economy would recover quickly from the pandemic and increase in size by 7.7%.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Georgia updates its 10-year military development plant

JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Georgia’s ministry of defence presented an updated 10-year plan for its military, a plan that includes building 1,050 apartments to give to soldiers on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Georgia also wants to buy more javelin anti-tank shoulder missiles from the United States and start production of mortar bombs. 

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Worried about the Taliban, Tajikistan mobilise entire army

DUSHANBE/JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Tajikistan mobilised its entire army and put it on “high alert” for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as worries intensified about a move north into Central Asia by the Taliban.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan also mobilised their armies and Russia said that it was sending extra military hardware to its base in Tajikistan. 

Media quoted a military source in Tajikistan as saying that the Taliban now controls around 80% of Afghanistan’s border with Tajikistan. It has pounced on Afghan government military weakness since the US started to withdraw its forces in May.

In a statement, the Tajik ministry of defence said that it had ordered the mobilisation of all its 100,000 regular soldiers, and another 130,000 reservists. Inspecting some of these forces in Dushanbe, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said that the Tajik military had to be ready to defend its borders.

“The situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, especially in the northern regions bordering with our country, remains very difficult and uncertain. The situation is getting more complicated day by day and even hour after hour,” he said.

Earlier this month, hundreds of Afghan government soldiers fled across the Uzbek and Tajik borders to escape the Taliban which now controls most of the northern section of Afghanistan, including the important border crossings into Central Asia, for the first time.

Also in Tajikistan, media said that Russia was sending an extra 17 BMP-2s to its base. The BMP-2 is a cross between an armoured personnel carrier and a tank that Russian infantry favour when deploying into battle. The Kommersant newspaper also reported that Russia had offered the US use of its base as a listening post to spy on the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

Elsewhere in Central Asia, news leaked out of Turkmenistan of a road accident that killed 30 soldiers when, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a military convoy collided with a truck and another vehicle. The RFE/RL source said the scene was “horrible”.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Georgia’s economy to grow by 7.7%, says IMF

JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — The IMF said in its latest economic assessment that it expected Georgia’s economy to grow by 7.7% this year, underlining its sharp recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Economists have said that the major concern for Georgia’s economy is inflation. The Central Bank said that it was running at nearly 10% last month.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Armenia’s new medical tourism

>> Armenia is cashing in on a medical tourism industry focused on the pandemic, writes James Kilner

YEREVAN/JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Finding a hotel room or an apartment to rent in Yerevan has become a challenge but, in the second year of the global coronavirus pandemic, it is not Armenia’s relaxed attitude towards facemasks and social distancing that is attracting tourists. Instead, Armenia’s offer to vaccinate anybody against the coronavirus has created a new “medical tourism” industry.

The vast majority of these so-called medical tourists are from Iran, as data from Armenia’s tourism ministry showed. It said that the number of people arriving from Iran over the past month has doubled.

And the epicentre of this coronavirus-motivated migration lies at the top of Yerevan’s North Avenue. 

Across the road from the hulking grey Soviet-built opera house, an ambulance parks up every day. From 10am, anybody is invited to have a coronavirus vaccination. Priority is given to Armenians but the take up has been poor. The Armenian doctor instead talks to the crowd in English. Standing next to her, a Farsi translator repeats her instructions.

“We did about 100 vaccinations today,” she said later. “A few at the start were Armenian but most, by a long way, are from Iran.”

One of these was Makhmoud from Tehran. He had been waiting for his vaccination standing a few metres back from the crowd, pulling on a slim cigarette, his facemask pushed down under his chin. His wife sat on a bollard next to him.

“What choice do we have?” he said. “The vaccination programme in Iran is falling over and we may have to wait another three or four months for our turn. I’m 57-years-old.”

According to Makhmoud, a retired gas complex worker, the Iranian authorities have only offered the vaccine to people over the age of 60. He had flown to Yerevan but he said that thousands of people were making the overland crossing via Tabriz in the northwest of Iran.

“The problem now, though, is that it is expensive. Now everybody who enters has to wait 10 days to have a vaccine,” he said.

The new rules, that people have to stay in Armenia for at least 10 days before they can have the vaccine were imposed on July 15 and it is clear from ministers’ comments that they were introduced to generate extra income. “Tourism indicators show growth,” media has quoted economy minister Vahan Kerobyan as saying. “Now is a good time to think about medical tourism.”

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Uzbek data shows industrial growth

JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Data published by Uzbekistan’s State Statistics Committee said that output at Uzbek industries was 8.5% higher in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2020. Most metrics in the Statistic Committee’s twice-a-year data release showed that Uzbek the economy was growing. The one sector that didn’t show much of an increase was construction, a key driver of the economy, which showed growth compared to the same period in 2020 of just 0.1%.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Georgian PM says lockdown will not be reimposed

JULY 21 2021 (The Bulletin) — Georgian PM Irakli Gharibashvili said that the government would not reimpose a coronavirus lockdown despite cases rising. Georgia had had one of the toughest coronavirus lockdowns, and it earned international praise for locking down hard and early. This year, though, it has taken a lighter touch and lifted most restrictions. Opposition leaders have said that the light lockdown is an effort to pick up support ahead of an important election this year.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Iran talks up trade deals with the EEAU

JULY 21 2021 (The Bulletin) — Iranian diplomats are talking up a trade agreement with the Kremlin-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEAU) which they hope will create a series of free trade zones that will spur joint projects. The EEAU includes Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Media reported that a group of 40 Iranian businessmen had flown to Bishkek to look at potential investments in Kyrgyzstan.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Georgian banks record record profits

JULY 21 2021 (The Bulletin) — Georgia’s banks registered a record total profit in June, the Central Bank reported, more evidence that the country is recovering quickly from the impact of the pandemic. The Central Bank said that banks’ profit in June totalled 295m lari ($92m). Georgia’s banking system is considered robust. Since the pandemic has subsided, requests for loans have boomed.

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— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021