Business and Economics
The US Department of State is sponsoring the Central Asia and Afghanistan Women’s Economic Symposium, called “Strategies for Success”, on 18-20 July, 2011 in Bishkek. The symposium will bring together female policy makers and leaders from private enterprise, education, and civil society to share strategies in support of women’s entrepreneurship. Kyrgyzstan’s President Roza Otunbayeva, a long-time champion of women’s enterprise, will provide the opening address. US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne S. Verveer and Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert O. Blake, Jr. will also participate in the symposium.
Editor’s note: An American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that in 2007, Turkish businessman Ahmet Çalık believed that, vis-à-vis, Turkmenistan was “on the surface” the most independent of the post-Soviet Central Asian republics, “but not behind the scenes” — to the point that he insinuates Berdimuhamedov was put in power by Moscow. neweurasia’s Magtymguly reports. “This cable is like scripture for me,” he writes.
There is new WikiLeaks cable from middle of May that has not been reported. It is about views of Ahmet Çalık, owner of Çalik Group and ex-minister of Turkmenistan’s textile industry Niyazov days, on President Berdimuhmmedow in the first days of new regime. My comments are after the quote.
While middle and high school students in Jizzak province of Uzbekistan enjoyed their return from cotton fields to attend graduation ceremonies in their schools after more than a month absence, campaign to end the use of forced child labor in Uzbek cotton fields enlarges more and more by supporters from the civil society representatives from around the world, as well as by retailers.
Group of retailers, international civic activists had been bombarding the Uzbek government to stop what they call “a patriotic act by little Uzbeks.”
In August, 2008 a coalition of the four trade associations representing the U.S. apparel and retail industries hand-delivered a letter addressed to Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov to Ambassador of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov in Washington, DC. The group urged the government of Uzbekistan to take decisive and immediate actions to end the use of forced child labor in its cotton fields. Read the full story »
Editor’s note: Ataturk Street in downtown Tashkent is about to be renamed, and in the view of neweurasia’s Avicenna, it’s the latest signal of Turkey and Uzbekistan’s rather bipolar relationship. “It’s obvious that this crisis is probably more serious than anyone thought,” he writes, “but it’s also consistent with the back and forth that’s taken place several times during the first 20 years of independence of Uzbekistan.”
**“Türkiye va Atatürk ketsin!?” (Uzbek for “Turkey and Ataturk must leave!?”)
Despite all the statements of the government of Uzbekistan on never-ending friendship and brotherhood between our country and Turkey today’s news on re-naming of the Ataturk Street in the downtown of Tashkent fueled rumors of a serious crack in the Uzbek-Turkish relations.
The Turkish businesses closures that started in the end of 2010 and which have continued in 2011 likewise indicate an unwelcoming environment for Turkish investors coming to Uzbekistan.
Yet, with seeming no regards for these ups and downs, both countries have always emphasized “deep, centuries-old historical and cultural roots”. But now it’s obvious that this crisis is probably more serious than anyone thought, but it’s also consistent with the back and forth that’s taken place several times during the first 20 years of independence of Uzbekistan.
In the light of the possible solution to the propiska (registration) issue, which became a headache for thousands of Uzbekistanis while attempting to register in the capital city of Tashkent, covered by Uznews, I wanted to remind President Karimov’s speech of January 21 at the Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to the results of the socio-economical evaluation of 2010.
Islom Karimov brought the issue of creating new job opportunities several times in his speech, emphasizing that “not only governors but everyone living in Uzbekistan starting from the president to officials should contribute to this.”
“When someone in need goes to places located far away and lives there as a slave, it hurts my dignity as an Uzbek man. Everyone sitting here should pay attention to this. This is something that seriously hurts our dignity, dignity of Uzbeks. My and your task is to provide them with necessary jobs in Uzbekistan.”
January 21, 2011, Cabinet of Ministers meeting
Mr. President allow me to ask you a few questions: Why do you think Uzbeks leave their country to seek a better life abroad? Isn’t that because of the restrictions (apart from political and human rights ones) to move freely and seek for a job inside of Uzbekistan?
As Uznews reminded on the promise of Uzbek authorities to ease the restrictions on citizens from other regions settling in Tashkent starting from April 1, it appears that attempts to resolve this issue have been failed and postponed for an indefinite period of time.
Editor’s note: Foreign businesses are facing an unusual “investment” crisis in Turkmenistan: three major Turkish companies have lodged a legal inquiry with the ICSID, and according to an anonymous source, 22 more may soon follow, reports neweurasia’s Annasoltan. She interviews Turkish businessmen who know the country well and have nothing nice to say about its policies. “Most Turkish construction companies have already left the country,” says one.
Running a business in a closed country such as Turkmenistan can already be a difficult enterprise, but it can be twice as hard when political elites act irresponsibly by failing to fulfil contractual obligations. One Turkish businessmen who has worked in Turkmenistan for over a decade remarked to me, on the condition of anonymity,
“Unfortunately, the leadership that succeeded Niyazov is not taking international laws seriously and has begun to take actions that violate the agreements.”
His claims come as three major Turkish construction companies have recently filed a legal inquiry against the Turkmen authorities over lost profits ranging between 600,000 and 1 billion USD. The inquiry has been registered with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an international arbitration body that deals with disputes around contracts and foreign investment. A Turkish source has informed me on the basis of anonymity that another 22 firms, who have also had problems with getting their projects complete, are also expected to submit their complaints soon.
All of this puts into question Turkmenistan’s reliability as a business partner, and with it, may dash the president’s plans of turning the capital into the “Eastern Dubai”.
Recently, Bishkek hosted an “international” exhibition titled “Kyrgyzstan 2011″. As far as I understood, the exhibition was supposed to display goods produced by 75 Kyrgyzstani companies. However, it turned into a temporary market in downtown Bishkek with lots of goods that have almost nothing to do with our country (except that it’s sold here). Anyways, see it for yourself below:
Starting from a small market in the outskirts of Bishkek, Dordoi has grown into a huge distribution center for chinese goods (mainly textile) almost for entire Central Asia and partially Russia. Some estimate that around 100, 000 people are employed directly or indirectly in the market. Today, it is surrounded by residential areas with its own mosque, cafes, shopping areas (food), parking lots etc. (here is a google map link, if want to see the scale)
But in this post, I will not discuss anything global. We will take a walk through a small portion of the market, but I am sure you will get the idea.
Translator’s note: It appears that Kyrgyzstan’s leading mobile operator MegaCom is about to be confiscated by the government, amidst an ongoing political and law enforcement scandal related to the company. Original post by neweurasia’s Malika (RUS).
As Kyrgyz parliamentarians propose to confiscate state’s leading mobile operator “MegaCom”, the scandal around its shares is still far from being resolved.
The proposal to confiscate was made by the working group, which had earlier been established to investigate the situation around the company. The initial plan was to nationalize it. However, nationalization would require repayment of lost profits and return of the shares costs. State budget clearly does not have funds for that.
The working group’s chairman Akylbek Zhaparov said that along with nationalization, the commission also proposed to take measures in finding the actual owner or a reliable customer only with necessary court procedures.
Speaking about the owner, with the Interim Government’s decree 49% of shares were nationalized last year, while the owner of the remaining 51% shares still has not been identified up until today. Some sources say that the mobile operator has links to the ex-president’s youngest son Maxim Bakiev.
This photo essay is likely to be especially interesting to neweurasia’s business-minded readers. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to establish Istanbul as a global financial center similar to New York, London, and Shanghai. Experts I spoke with recently explained that the city is currently a “regional diversified” global financial center. This means that it is serves the surrounding countries, such as those in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
The Turks have been trying to up their business in Central Asia. Due to the bureaucratic nature of Central Asia, it’s been slow going, but the Turks won’t be deterred. The goal of the new financial center is to attract investment to Turkey and also increase the country’s importance as a hub from where companies can spread out across the region. There are direct flights from Istanbul to numerous Central Asia cities and the Turks want to become the people that lead the way to business there.