Headlines from the Caspian: January 22, 2024
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jan 22, 2024
Energy and Economy
Kazakhstan’s Kaspi.kz Valued at $17.5 bln at Nasdaq Debut
Kaspi.kz, a Kazakhstan-based “mobile super app,” was valued at US$17.51 billion when its shares debuted 0.5% above their offer price on January 19, a day after Kaspi raised over US$1 billion for existing shareholders through an offering on Nasdaq. This comes less than three years after Kaspi was listed on the London Stock Exchange; its London-listed shares have nearly tripled since their debut in 2020. However, after struggling with low trade volumes in the UK, this move is expected to boost volumes and give the Kazakhstan-based company access to a wider pool of investors. This super app offers a wide range of services, including online shopping, personal lending, and legal applications.
Source: Financial Times
A New Trade and Logistics Center Opens on the Kazakh-China Border
On January 19, an international trade and logistics center opened near the village of Dostyk, on the Kazakhstan-China border. This new facility is set to triple the capacity of the Alakol checkpoint of the Dostyk customs from 200 to 600 freight vehicles per day. This expansion will increase cargo turnover from 4,000 to 12,000 tons, amounting to an increase in the overall cargo turnover from one to three million tons.
Source: Astana Times
Georgia Releases 2023 Trade Statistics
On January 22, the National Statistics Office of Georgia published data on 2023 trade and growth. Overall, in 2023, foreign trade increased by 12.5% compared to 2022 with exports increasing 9.1% and imports increasing by 14%. Türkiye was Georgia’s largest trading partner at $2.98 billion, followed by Russia at $2.4 billion, then the United States at $2.05 billion, and then China at $1.64 billion. The top three recipients of Georgian exports were Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan and Italy Sign Documents Worth Over $1.5 bln
Kazakhstan and Italy signed 18 commercial agreements on joint investment projects, amounting to over US$1.5 billion, during the Kazakhstan-Italy investment roundtable in Rome on January 18. Notably, Kazakhstan’s JSC "NC "KazMunayGas" and Italy’s ENI signed an agreement to jointly construct a hybrid power plant with a total capacity of 247 MW. Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, took part in the event, which was supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Italy, and JSC "NC "Kazakh Invest."
Source: Kazakh Invest
Georgian Delegation Attends Davos Forum
On January 16, a Georgian delegation led by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili attended the Davos World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland. Garibashvili held several high-profile meetings, including with Israeli President Itzaak Hertzog, and with the heads of a number of Turkish and European companies. Also present was Georgian foreign minister Ilia Darchiashvili, who held talks with his Dutch and Iranian counterparts. Discussions focused on European integration and economic ties respectively.
Security and Politics
UAE and Türkiye Collaborate on Bombs for Drones
Abu Dhabi-based Edge Group has finalized the integration of its Desert String 16 precision-guided munition on the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone. This was announced on the X platform, formerly Twitter, on January 17, with a video showing the TB2 take off from a Baykar facility and dropping munitions during the flight. The successful completion of this collaboration signals a strengthened relationship between the Emirati and Turkish defense sectors.
Source: Defense News
Pashinyan Suggests New Constitution
On January 19, while speaking at a meeting of Armenia's Ministry of Justice, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan suggested that Armenia should adopt a new constitution. Pashinyan suggested that a new constitution could make Armenia "more competitive and viable in the new geopolitical conditions." Pashinyan went on to state that a constitution should be put up for public referendum before being instituted.
Kazakhstan to Deploy Troops for UN Peace Keeping Missions in the Middle East and Africa
Following a proposal during a joint meeting of the houses of Parliament on January 19, the government of Kazakhstan announced that it plans to contribute up to 430 troops to UN peacekeeping missions starting in March 2024. Troops will be deployed to the UN Observer Force for Disengagement in the Golan Heights (UNDOF, Syria - Israel), UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO, Palestine - Israel), UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS, South Sudan), and UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA, Sudan).
Source: Caspian News
U.S. State Department and Human Rights Groups Urge Kyrgyzstan to End Crackdown on Independent Media
The U.S. Department of State released a statement on January 18, urging the Kyrgyz authorities to “ensure journalists can operate without undue pressure or harassment,” after the Kyrgyz police detained 11 journalists on charges of "calls for disobedience and mass riots.” Since the detainments, eight international human rights groups have also urged the government to end the crackdown in a joint statement.
Sources: Astana Times, Caspian News, Civil.ge, Defense News, Financial Times, Kazakh Invest, The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, RFE/RL, U.S. Department of State