The 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region for Thursday, June 4:
1Why China Can Profit From Turkmen LNG To Europe. “A plan to transit liquid natural gas from Turkmenistan to Europe has been bandied about in the past, the urgency of putting this plan into action has never been greater. Despite the myriad of economic, geographic, and geopolitical obstacles, Turkmenistan still represents a viable alternative to Russia. The question is — how does energy-hungry China feel about the prospect of the European Union exploiting Turkmenistan’s resources? The answer? Most likely indifferent” writes Aviv Lubell for Global Risk Insights.
2The Russian Challenge. “The root cause of the challenge posed to the West by Russia lies in the country’s internal development, and its failure to find a satisfactory pattern of development following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin and his circle are not the same as Russia and its people, and their interests do not necessarily coincide. The West has neither the wish nor the means to promote, or for that matter to prevent, regime change in Russia. But Western countries need to consider the possible consequences of a chaotic end to the Putin system.The West needs to develop and implement a clear and coherent strategy towards Russia. As far as possible, this strategy must be based on a common transatlantic and European assessment of Russian realities. In particular, policy should draw on the evidence of Russia’s behaviour, not on convenient or fashionable narratives”. [Chatham House]
3An ‘are you kidding me’ foreign policy.“Today, the United States calls for Russia to respect the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine, but conveniently omits even a nod to Azerbaijan. There is not even condemnation of repeated acts of aggression by Armenia. In fact, these past years, Azerbaijan has been repeatedly attacked for how its young and emerging democracy functions. And omnipresent on the U.S. radar screen are perceived human rights abuses such as closing mosques when there are unsavory clerics calling for Shariah law and the overthrow of the rightful and elected government” writes Norma Zager for the Washington Times.
4Kazakhstan is building a new major ferry complex in the port of Kuryk in the Caspian Sea.Commissioning of the ferry complex is scheduled for December 2016, according to the company.The volume of cargo transshipment by the new complex will be at the level of 4.1 million metric tons per year, according to the feasibility study of the project.Implementation of this project began in April 2015.Construction of 16 buildings and facilities is planned at the territory of the complex within the framework of the project.The terminal will be located on the area of 21 hectares. At the same time, it is planned to construct 14.34 kilometers long access road and 11.58 kilometers long dead-end track. The expansion of the Aktau sea port and the construction of the ferry complex in the Kuryk port will increase the port capacity of Kazakhstan in the Caspian Sea up to 24 million metric tons via the TRACECA and the North-South corridors, the company said. Moreover, the ports of Kazakhstan will be able to handle six million metric tons of ferry cargo annually.
5How to succeed in Iran: lessons from Russia and China. To succeed in Iran, Schweitzer recommends raising capital locally and taking advantage of existing infrastructure and expertise. Ideally, the only imports should be upper management and know-how, he says. Now, Arjan Capital consults foreign firms interested in a range of sectors: construction, hospitality, energy and branded retail. “Like the Chinese, the Iranians love western brands, so we bring a few very serious companies…with a long-term vision,” Schweitzer adds. “No one comes to build just one hotel. They are coming to stay because the cost of getting established is significant.” As in other transitioning economies, staffing poses a particular challenge for foreign firms. After years of isolation from international trends, Iranian workers lack the skills to fill middle and upper management positions. “If you needed in Russia 20 years ago 16 interviews to fill one job, you’re looking at double that in Iran,” Schweitzer says. [the guardian]
6Jereh Group participated in the 22nd International Oil and Gas Exhibition in Baku and showcased its stron.g capacity with the offering the latest and customized oil and gas solutions for the local market demand. Rich in oil and gas resource, Azerbaijan has become an important regional natural gas producer with the start of production in the Shah Deniz field in 2006. Strong demand resides offshore to boost Azerbaijan’s oil and gas production which could enhance its energy export to the Western. Jereh showcases its offshore engineering strength backed up by reliable manufacturing power with operating cases sharing onsite. “We are capable of providing offshore platform, offshore drilling package and auxiliary equipment with electrical control system” expressed Mr. Vova Du, manager of Jereh’s Azerbaijan market claims to the media, “in this March, Jereh came into alliance with Plexus, the world leading oil and gas company, which equips us with POS-GRIP technology and will definitely create significant impact in the subsea field and compelling benefits for our customers around the world”.
7Gambling industry in Kazakhstan: Business Report 2015. This report is a comprehensive research of Gambling industry in Kazakhstan.The first two chapters of the report feature the country profile by giving general information on Kazakhstan and by thoroughly studying its economic state (including key macroeconomic indicators and their development trends). The third chapter covers common business procedures in the country: from starting a project to closing a business. This chapter elucidates the country’s fiscal system, existing labour practices, property rights regulation peculiarities and other issues vital for running business in this country. Further the report analyses Gambling industry in the country. This key chapter tells about main trends in the industry, identifies key market players (including major producers, traders, etc.), and evaluates trade operations within the sector in the recent years. [RESEARCH AND MARKETS]
8Russia’s High-Tech Oil Projects Unaffected by Western Sanctions. “Today, all projects involving Russian companies continue to be implemented. A number of foreign companies have suspended their participation due to sanctions introduced in regard to high-tech oil. This is of no vital importance for the development of such deposits as of today, our companies will continue to work with hard-to-extract oil deposits,” Novak said in an interview with RT.
9Several foreign investors show interest in Azerbaijan’s OGPC project. The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) has received concrete proposals from several foreign investors on the possible participation in the project for creation of a new oil and gas processing and petrochemical complex (OGPC), SOCAR’s vice president for strategic development Tofig Gahramanov said June 4. ‘We have received several concrete proposals and started negotiations with the prospective partners, if the negotiations are completed successfully, the subsequent stages of the project can be implemented jointly with partners, he added.
10The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will lend up to €10 million to a private water utility, Vodnye Resoursy Marketing, which provides water and wastewater services to Kazakhstan’s southern city of Shymkent, the bank reported. The loan will be used for modernising the water and wastewater services in the city. Meanwhile the government of Kazakhstan will provide a capital grant in tenge equivalent to €8 million, and Vodnye Resoursy Marketing will invest the equivalent of €500,000 into the modernization project. “Privately-owned Vodnye Resoursy Marketing is among the best utility companies in the country in terms of its operational and financial performance, despite working in a low-income city. The new project will further demonstrate the benefits of involving private companies in providing public services in Kazakhstan,” the bank said.
Circular Economy: Proposal to boost the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers
The EU institutions have found an agreement on new EU rules on fertilisers proposed by the Commission in 2016 as a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Package.
Negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached a preliminary political agreement on the Commission’s proposal from March 2016 which built on the Commission’s 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan.
The new rules will facilitate the access of organic and waste-based fertilisers to the EU Single Market. It also introduces limits for cadmium and other contaminants in phosphate fertilisers. This will help to reduce waste, energy consumption and environmental damage, as well as limit the risks to human health.
Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Unlike traditional fertilisers which are highly energy intensive and rely on scarce natural resources, bio-waste fertilisers have the potential to make farming more sustainable. These new rules will also help to create a new market for reused raw materials in line with our efforts to build a circular economy in Europe.”
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The new EU rules will open up new market opportunities for innovative companies producing organic fertilisers and create new local jobs, provide wider choice for our farmers and protect our soils and food. At the same time we are also making sure that our European industry will be able to adapt to the proposed changes.”
The main elements of the new rules are:
Opening the Single Market for organic fertilisers: The agreement on the Fertilising Products Regulation will open the market for new and innovative organic fertilisers by defining the conditions under which these can access the EU Single Market. The Regulation will provide common rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for all fertilisers to be traded freely across the EU. Producers will need to demonstrate that their products meet those requirements before affixing the CE mark.
Introducing limit values for toxic contaminants in certain fertilisers:The Regulation for the first time introduces limits for toxic contaminants, including a new 60 mg/kg limit for cadmium which will be further reviewed 4 years after the date of application. This will guarantee a high level of soil protection and reduce health and environmental risks, while allowing producers to adapt their manufacturing process to comply with the new limits. To encourage the use of even safer fertilisers, producers will also be able to use a low-cadmium label applicable to products with less than 20mg/kg cadmium content. These rules will affect those fertilisers that choose to affix CE marking.
Maintaining optional harmonisation:The Regulation also offers the possibility to opt for optional harmonisation. A manufacturer who does not wish to CE-mark the product can choose to comply with national standards and sell the product to other EU countries based on the principle of mutual recognition.
The preliminary political agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission in so-called trialogue negotiations has today been confirmed by the Member States’ representatives and is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The Regulation will then be directly applicable in all Member States and will become mandatory in 2022.
Under the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission called for a revision of the EU regulation on fertilisers to facilitate the EU-wide recognition of organic and waste-based fertilisers. The sustainable use of fertilisers made from organic waste material in agriculture could reduce the need for mineral-based fertilisers, the production of which has negative environmental impacts, and depends on imports of phosphate rock, a limited resource.
Under current rules, only conventional, non-organic fertilisers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically can freely be traded across the EU. Innovative fertilising products produced from organic materials are outside the scope of the current Fertilisers Regulation. Their access to the single market is therefore dependant on mutual recognition between Member States, which is often difficult due to diverging national rules. Such products therefore have a competitive disadvantage which hampers innovation and investment in the circular economy.
According to estimates, if more bio-waste was recycled, it could replace up to 30 % of non-organic fertilisers. Currently, the EU imports around 6 million tonnes of phosphates a year but could replace up to 30% of this total by extraction from sewage sludge, biodegradable waste, meat and bone meal or manure.
The Commission has also recently presented a new Bioeconomy Strategy, as announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent accompanying President Juncker’s 2018 State of the Union Address, which will further support the scaling up the sustainable use of renewable resources and boost jobs, growth and investment into a sustainable circular bioeconomy in Europe.
Yemen talks: Truce agreed over key port city of Hudaydah
The announcement of a ceasefire between Yemen’s warring parties in and around the key port of Hudaydah, was hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday as a deal which would improve the lives of millions of people.
Speaking on the last day of UN-led talks in Sweden to decide the future of the war-torn country, where its people are in the grip of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, Mr. Guterres told those present that they had “the future of Yemen” in their hands.
“You have reached an agreement on Hudaydah port and city, which will see a mutual re-deployment of forces from the port and the city, and the establishment of a Governorate-wide ceasefire,” he said, noting that the UN would play “a leading role” in the port.
“This will facilitate the humanitarian access and the flow of goods to the civilian population. It will improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis,” he insisted.
Nearly four years after fighting escalated between the Government of Yemen and Houthi opposition movement, known officially as Ansar Allah, more than 24 million people – three-quarters of the population – need some form of assistance and protection.
Some 20 million are food insecure and 10 million of these people do not know how they will obtain their next meal.
While noting that “pending issues” have yet to be resolved, the UN chief said that representatives from the internationally-recognised Government of Yemen and the opposition had made “real progress” which had yielded “several important results”.
These included a “mutual understanding to ease the situation in Taizz”, Mr Guterres said, in reference to the country’s third largest city.
“We hope this will lead to the opening of humanitarian corridors and the facilitation of demining,” he added.
On the previously-agreed issue of a mass exchange of prisoners, the UN Secretary-General noted that both delegations had drawn up a timeline and provided further details on when it might happen.
This would allow “thousands – I repeat, thousands – of Yemenis to be reunited with their families,” Mr Guterres said, with UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, at his side.
Breakthrough over talks framework
Looking ahead to a new meeting between both parties in the new year, the UN chief insisted that another “very important step for the peace process” had been agreed, namely a willingness to discuss a framework for negotiations.
“You have agreed to meet again to continue to discuss this further at the end of January during the next round of negotiations,” Mr. Guterres said, adding that it was a “critical element” of a future political settlement to end the conflict.
“We have a better understanding of the positions of the parties,” he added, noting their “constructive engagement”, while also crediting the Governments of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait for their “concrete support” in making the meeting happen.
Welcoming the announcement on the Hudaydah ceasefire, the World Food Programme (WFP) underlined that the Red Sea port was “key” to importing some 70 per cent of Yemen’s humanitarian and 90 per cent of its commercial needs.
“Any progress towards peace is good progress, as long as it helps the Yemeni people who have suffered so much in this conflict,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley, noting that what Yemen needed most was lasting peace.
“Today’s announcement gives us hope that the World Food Programme’s work to feed 12 million severely hungry Yemenis may be made easier in the coming weeks and months.”
Owing to the conflict, in recent weeks imports have decreased by about half at Hudaydah’s docks, WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said.
“In November, our target in Hodeidah Governorate was to reach 800 000 people in need of food assistance. This ceasefire will of course help us in our daily activities as the region is one of WFPs priorities.”
Innovation: key to solving climate change and promoting prosperity
In the recently launched landmark report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading scientists warned that we only have 12 years to prevent the global environmental catastrophe caused by irreversible climate change. This will require rapid and far-reaching climate action in all sectors, including energy, industry, buildings, transport, agriculture and cities.
While industry is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for nearly one third of total global emissions, it is also a leading provider of climate technology solutions and green jobs.
As the UN’s specialized agency promoting industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is committed to enabling a paradigm shift in industrialization in developing countries as a means to build low-emission climate-resilient societies.
Speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24), UNIDO Director General LI Yong said, “Innovation is key to addressing climate change and promoting economic and social prosperity.”
UNIDO is currently implementing over 400 projects, which directly contribute to achieving the targets and goals set by both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To enhance knowledge sharing and demonstrate proven and effective solutions for replication and scaling up, UNIDO showcased some of these projects during COP24 side events.
For instance, the UNIDO-GEF Global Cleantech Innovation Programme, which supports small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs in developing innovative climate and clean energy solutions as profitable business models, prominently featured in multiple technology-related side events.
UNIDO also presented its clean cooking fuels initiative, which promotes the production of biofuels in developing countries, as well as the manufacturing of the stoves on an industrial scale.
A dedicated side event marked the fifth anniversary of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), the implementing arm of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism. Hosted by UNIDO and UN Environment, the CTCN promotes the accelerated transfer of environmentally sound technologies for mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries.
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