Headlines from the Caspian: August 7, 2023
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Aug 8, 2023
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan Signs $200 Million in Commercial Deals with Afghanistan
On August 2-3, during the Kazakh-Afghan business in Astana, more than 300 officials and representatives from the private sector signed commercial deals worth $200 million. Agreements largely focused on food security and grain exports from Kazakhstan to Afghanistan. During the meetings, Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the Taliban’s diplomatic missions in Kazakhstan remain limited to matters concerning trade and economic affairs.
Kazakhstan Considers New Export Route to Gulf Countries
On August 7, Kazakh Minister of Trade and Integration SerikZhumangarin and CEO of Simatech Shipping and Forwarding Davud Tafti discussed the establishment of a new export routefrom the Kazakh port of Kuryk to the Gulf countries through the Iranian ports of Amirabad and Bandar Abbas. This new route will allow exports across the Caspian Sea to Iran within three days, enabling delivery to the UAE, India, Pakistan, and East Africa. This potential route would be established by a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Ports.
Source: Astana Times
SOCAR and Microsoft Sign an MoU
The State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and Microsoft signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the expansion of Microsoft’s activities in Azerbaijan. This memorandum includes cooperation on digitalization, innovation, enhancing IT infrastructure, exploration, production, processing, and marketing, transportation, and cyber security.
Georgia Bans Re-Export and Transit of Cars from the United States and the EU to Russia and Belarus
On August 3, the Revenue Service within Georgia’s Ministry of Finance announced that the country will be implementing a ban on the re-export and transit of cars imported from the United States and the European Union (EU) to Russia and Belarus. According to the statement, the decision was in line with the EU’s 11th package of sanctions that was designed to prevent Russia’s sanctions circumvention with third countries.
Abu-Dhabi-based Energy Company Acquires Stake in Azerbaijani Gas Fields
On August 4, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed an agreement with Azerbaijan’s SOCAR and France-based TotalEnergies on acquiring a 30% equity stake in the Absheron offshore gas field of Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea. “With global gas demand expected to steadily increase over the coming decades, ADNOC will continue to responsibly meet the world’s energy needs by developing and producing natural gas from world-class assets such as Absheron,” said Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Executive Director at ADNOC.
Source: Caspian News
Security and Politics
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan Hold First Summit
On August 4, in Baku, the Presidents of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan held their first-ever trilateral summit aimed at advancing multilateral cooperation. The discussions covered “the use of the Amu Darya river's water resources, energy sector development and cooperation, strengthening transportation collaboration, and expanding logistics and transport operations,” said Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov.
Secretary Blinken Holds Call with Minister Fidan
On August 5, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone discussion with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan. During the call, the two leaders discussed the importance of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace discussions. Furthermore, Blinken “thanked Türkiye for its leadership in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”
Source: U.S. Department of State
Fourteenth Annual Ambassadors Conference Held in Ankara
The 14th Ambassadors Conference in Ankara began on August 5and will continue through August 9. Turkish Ambassadors convened under this year’s theme, “Our Foreign Policy in the Century of Türkiye,” and are discussing regional and global developments, challenges, and opportunities. At the opening of the conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidanemphasized that the region has seen an “acceleration” in the normalization process between nations. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meetings play a “crucial role for in-house planning of foreign policy and inter-institutional coordination.”
Kazakh Government Officially Approves the Mutual Visa-Free Deal Between Kazakhstan and China
Kazakhstan and China signed mutual visa-free agreement on May 17, 2023, in Xian during the China-Central Asia summit. After more than two months, this agreement was approved recently by the Kazakh government. The mutual visa deal allows citizens from both countries to stay up to 30 days within the territory of each other, with the total stay not exceeding 90 days per each 180 days.
Sources: Astana Times, AzerNews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, Kazinform, MENAFN, Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trend, U.S. Department of State