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Quest Means Business

Russia Getting Around Sanctions By Plundering Sudan's Gold; Chevron And Exxon Report Record Profits As Oil Prices Soar; Eurozone Economy Grows 0.7 Percent In Q2, Inflation Hits Record; No Word If Pelosi's Asia Trip Will Include Stop In Taiwan; Will Smith Addresses Oscar Slap In Apologetic Video; Russian Officials Requested Second Convict In Response To U.S. Prisoner Swap. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 15:00:00   ET



ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The S&P 500 is on track for its best month since 2020. With one hour left to trade gains across Wall Street

as you can see, Dow Jones is up almost one percent. S&P also looking stronger and so too is the NASDAQ.

Those are the markets and these are the main events.

A CNN exclusive investigation: How smuggled gold from Sudan is helping finance Putin's war in Ukraine.

Ukraine is ready to restart grain shipments to the rest of the world under a new landmark deal.

And as Beyonce's new album drops, how the star became the voice of The Great Resignation.

Live from Dubai, it's Friday, July 29th. I'm Eleni Giokos. I'm in for Richard Quest and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the show.

Now in an exclusive report, CNN can reveal how Russia is circumnavigating US sanctions by exploiting and smuggling Sudanese gold. It is a move that

also stopped democratic change in Sudan. It's a country in the northeast of Africa just as its people had successfully toppled one of the longest

standing African dictators through peaceful street protests. It's one of the biggest exporters of gold in the world and Russia has been illegally

exploiting this resource from Sudan for years, controlling vital government and non-government institutions to secure this golden financial pipeline.

Nima Elbagir and her team traveled to the north of Sudan to show her Russia manipulates the Sudanese military government and how it is using front

companies to hold on to the gold illegally moving from Sudan's capital, Khartoum to Russia.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Deep in Sudan's gold country, miners toil in the searing heat, barely surviving

in what should be one of Africa's richest countries, providing gold for a war a continent away.

We investigate a force more powerful than Sudan's government controlling its gold, subverting Sudan's destiny, threatening me and our sources and

thwarting democracy to evade sanctions in Russia's war on Ukraine.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Russian manager is on his way, they're saying.

ELBAGIR (voice over): We uncover the extent of Russia's grip on Sudan.

TEXT: Sudan's Gold Russia's War.

ELBAGIR (voice over): For a millennia, Sudan has produced some of the most sought after gold in the world and Putin's private army, the notorious

paramilitary group, Wagner, knows it.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Sudan's government is denying Wagner's existence in country, but we're not buying it and we've come to investigate.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Wagner's tentacles stretch right across Africa. We've discovered some of its most notorious operatives are working on


Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, Mikhail Potepkin, Prigozhin's head of Sudan ops and Aleksandr Sergeevich Kuznetsov Wagner's key enforcer

previously convicted of kidnap and robbery working with this man, Sudanese General, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo aka Hemetti in a quid pro quo for training

and weaponry.

We travel 200 miles north from the capital, Khartoum, to gold country to take a closer look at Wagner's main moneymaker, artisanal gold.

Miners bring rocks they extract here to be processed, 85 percent of Sudan's gold is produced artisanally.


ELBAGIR (on camera): This right here, it may not look like much. This is what's left after the rocks that the miners have brought in is milled.

Now, they've taken what they can out of it, but this gets sold, and when it's properly processed, with someone who has superior technology, you can

make 10 times what those miners over there and making.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Ten times more money without any of the back- breaking work and the only foreign processing plant operational in Sudan is Wagner's Meroe Gold, despite a Sudanese law limiting ownership to locals.

Also troubling Meroe Gold was sanctioned two years ago by the United States for exploiting Sudan's natural resources and spreading their malign

influence around the globe.

According to the Sudanese government, they officially ceased operations, but they are still here, still evading sanctions.

We verified their location with coordinates provided by Sudanese anti- corruption investigators and head there to see for ourselves.

As we approach, the red flag of the former Soviet Union blows in the wind. Increasingly used by Russian nationalists, it brazenly marks the Meroe Gold

compound. A Russian tanker sits next to it.

We get to the entrance and decide to ask a few questions, but not before we turn on our covert cameras.

(NIMA ELBAGIR speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: Is this the Russian company?

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)


ELBAGIR (voice over): Well, that's convenient. They've just confirmed the Russians are at this location.

(NIMA ELBAGIR speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: We are journalists from CNN. I'd like to see the Russian manager. We'd like to ask him some questions.

ELBAGIR (on camera): There is a black pickup approaching. Okay. Come on. The guy just confirmed that the Russian manager is in that black pickup

and is on his way to us.

ELBAGIR (voice over): A Russian van races to the office, but no one seems to be coming over.

ELBAGIR (on camera): It seems the Russian manager has changed his mind.

ELBAGIR (voice over): But others turn up instead.

(NIMA ELBAGIR speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: I'm sure you've already been shown our permission.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: But we are a Sudanese company. It's a company called Al Solag.

ELBAGIR (voice over): They claim this plant is Sudanese owned and is called Al Solag. Remember that name? It's important, Al Solag.

We head off the property to do some more filming, but we're followed. Security approaches, they want us to stop.

ELBAGIR (on camera): This is public ground.


ELBAGIR: This is public ground. Why is your van stopping here?

They're trying to get us to move on. They're taking pictures of us, of our license plates.

ELBAGIR (voice over): The reason they're so nervous, Al Solag is a front for the Russian company, Meroe Gold. Wagner is still operating illegally, a

foreign company pretending to be Sunnis to evade US sanctions.

We obtained their registration documents to prove it. The document on the left is from Meroe Gold, the one on the right Al Solag. These dates

represent complaints made in Employment Courts against Meroe Gold. These ones from Al Solag, they are the same.

Under Sudanese law, when a company's holdings are transferred, so are any judgments against it. Here you can see the judgments against both companies

are identical.

All they've done is change the name. Wagner hiding in plain sight to avoid US sanctions and keep the financial pipeline flowing back to Moscow and its

war on Ukraine, a dangerous business to delve into.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Since we've arrived in country, I've been informed by sources of threats that they believe to be credible against me. They say

that's what happens here. When you look too closely at Russia's business dealings.

We are off to meet one of those sources, and he has asked that I come alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meroe Gold is a front for the Russians, specifically for the forces of Wagner that are working to exploit gold in Sudan and its


It's the front. It's not a company.

It extracts gold from tailings and it buys gold from the Sudanese artisanal miners. That's not legal, because the law says that any gold producer is

supposed to report the quantity it produces to the Central Bank or to the Ministry of Mining and that does not happen.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Inside Sudan's Central Bank, a whistleblower snapped this photo of a computer screen showing official production in 2021

at 49.7 tons, 32.7 times are unaccounted for by the Central Bank.

But the real figure we're told by whistleblowers could be over 220 tons. That's around $13.4 billion worth of gold a year that's being stolen from


How has this happened?

Two years ago, the Sudanese people successfully overthrew Africa's second longest ruling dictator, Omar al-Bashir. Eighteen months later, the

military staged its own coup sweeping aside civilian rule, and they did this we are told with Wagner's support in exchange for gold.


ELBAGIR (voice over): This man had a front row seat to Russia's machinations and has evidence to prove it stood to gain by supporting the

Sudanese military's coup.

Under threat of assassination, he has been in hiding for the last nine months, moving from safe house to safe house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians and Sudanese officers saw the civilians in the government as an obstacle to the plan. The official anti-corruption

task force wasn't caving to pressure or threats or even bribery.

The Armed Forces were found to be complicit in the smuggling of gold by the Russians, and it was raised with them.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Do you blame Russia for the death of democracy here in Sudan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. Russia carries the majority of the blame for the silk birthing of Sudan's democracy.

ELBAGIR (voice over): Just days later, his nephew was killed by State actors trying to stop a pro-democracy demonstration.

In the two weeks we've been in Sudan investigating Russia's illegal gold mining, 10 people were killed, protesting for change.

It's not just on the battlefields of Ukraine that Russia is spilling blood. Here too, there is a human cost. The cost of Russia's support of Sudan's

Generals in return for its gold.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Khartoum, Sudan.


GIOKOS: This is just one example of how Russia is overcoming Western sanctions to fund its war machine. By one estimate, Russia spent nearly $66

billion on its military last year, and that number is likely to grow this year with the war in Ukraine. Analysts say the war could be costing Russia

hundreds of millions of dollars a day.

Energy exports now are a major lifeline. Russia takes in roughly $1 billion a day from fossil fuels. Other exports can fund the war as well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is rerouting trade to more reliable partners like Brazil, India, China, as well as South Africa.

And Russia can still call on billions of dollars in reserves despite some assets being frozen by the West, and those are just the legal ways to raise


Andrei Illarionov was Vladimir Putin's Chief Economic Adviser until 2005, and he joins me from Washington.

Thank you so much, Andrei for joining us. It's good to see you.


GIOKOS: I know you've watched exclusive reports by Nima Elbagir in Sudan, where you see the Wagner Group, taking gold, being able to then funnel it

through to Russia, do you believe that it's helping fund the war machine there?

ILLARIONOV: Good evening, thank you for inviting me.

I think it's a very good report about Sudan and about this gold pipeline coming from Sudan to Russia. But the -- the very amount, $13 billion at

most is certainly a very tiny portion of the amount that Kremlin is using to finance the war against Ukraine.

The recent estimates about the spending of Kremlin on the war is raging between half a billion dollar a day and $1 billion a day, which means $15

billion to $30 billion a month, which could be about $150 billion to $300 billion for the whole year, which shows that Kremlin is using a lot of

resources, most of which is coming from the Federal budget of Russia, from local budgets and from some other sources.

And these particular source of revenues and gold from Sudan, based on their previous reports, probably goes first of all for private enrichment, for

personnel pockets of the Kremlin elite, not so much for financing exactly these war efforts.

But this shows that even in time of war, Kremlin is using these lucrative relations with their friendly partners in different countries for personal

enrichment, not for the war. But we need to look at the amount of --

GIOKOS: When you said the numbers, yes, when you said -- you know, you spoke about what it's costing Russia and you're saying that the main source

of funding is from oil and gas. I guess, the question here is, are the current sanctions having the desired effect?

Because I'm looking at a stronger ruble. I'm looking at some interesting economic data coming out of Russia and one wonders if the sanctions are

putting enough pressure on Vladimir Putin.


ILLARIONOV: Unfortunately, we can see that the current sanctions imposed on Russia do have some impact, but this is a very limited impact.

From the recent estimates, Russian GDP would contract this year between four and five percent. It is much smaller decline from anticipated

reduction in GDP earlier this year when many people predicted 10 to 15 percent reduction in GDP growth this year. Now, it is much smaller.

The fall in foreign exchange reserves by Russia is about 13 percent since the beginning of this war, so it is still very limited impact.

What might be the really -- what should have and what might have a very serious impact on the ability of Kremlin to fight this war is its oil and

gas embargo.

So far, first of all Europe, but not only Europe, the rest of the world has banned Russian oil and gas at level probably $1 billion a day or even more,

which means that Kremlin, assuming this particular flow of revenue could continue these war endlessly receiving $1 billion a day --

GIOKOS: Andrei, you know Vladimir Putin. You've worked with Vladimir Putin, what do you think he's thinking about the international response

right now?

ILLARIONOV: I think that he finds this international response, very limited, very timid, very shy, very modest, and he firmly believe that if

nothing changes with the international response, he could continue as long as he wish.

GIOKOS: Yes. I have to ask you about the Viktor Bout in exchange for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and our CNN sources have also now told us

that there could be someone else that the Kremlin has asked for in exchange. Do you think this is the right thing to do?

ILLARIONOV: From what I know about Mr. Bout, I think it's a mistake on the part of the United States to be ready for such an exchange.

I understand the importance of saving life of Americans in Russia, but I think it's a very important asset for Kremlin. And I don't think that it

would be a right move to proceed with such an exchange.

GIOKOS: Andrei Illarionov, thank you very much, sir, for your time and your insights. Good to see you.

ILLARIONOV: Thank you.

GIOKOS: All right, when we return, bye-bye bear market, US stocks are on track to close out their best month in almost two years.

We'll be back right after this. Stay with us.



GIOKOS: It is the final day of trading of July, and US stocks are on track for the best month in almost two years. The S&P 500 now trading well

above 4,000 points and as you can see, up one and a half percent; NASDAQ also two percent up; the Dow one percent in the green as well, and gains

are driven by strong earnings from two tech giants.

Apple is up more than three percent after its quarterly profits beat expectations, and take a look at Amazon, up over 11 percent on that better

than expected earnings report and a more optimistic sales outlook through September.

Now three days of solid gains have put the S&P and NASDAQ on track for their best month since November 2020. It's a big turnaround after a dismal

first half.

And speaking of turnarounds, more oil companies are reporting record profits this week. Shares in US giants Exxon and Chevron are both soaring

and that is thanks to strong earnings.

All of this week, we've seen oil majors on both sides of the Atlantic posting record profits as energy prices soar.

Paul La Monica is in New York for us.

Paul, so much economic data and macroeconomic information coming through, and that's not deterring the markets it seems.

I want to talk about Chevron and Exxon. It is no surprise that they are reporting really strong numbers on the back of this much higher oil price.

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, exactly, Eleni. When you look at how crude prices have soared this year, it is partly because demand has

held up, but obviously because of what is going on with the Russia invasion of Ukraine. That is clearly good news for companies like Exxon and Chevron.

Chevron is leading the Dow this year. Many oil stocks are top performers in the S&P 500, and we are probably going to get more good news next week. BP

will report its earnings. So, I think right now, investors recognize that while stocks will head higher as long as energy prices remain at these

levels, which are very lofty.

GIOKOS: Yes, so Amazon was one of those exciting stocks, specifically over the pandemic and I'm looking at the fact that they saying that they're

more optimistic about sales going forward.

Tell me about their forecast, because those details are always quite vital in understanding where things are going and also a very interesting

barometer for the health of the consumer.

LA MONICA: Exactly. I mean, what's really compelling about what Amazon had to say about the state of the consumer is that a lot of investors have

been worrying about retail stocks and consumer spending, potentially slowing down.

Walmart had a warning, Best Buy's results warning, also kind of sobering to Wall Street. But Amazon really showing that consumer spending still seems

to be holding up particularly with online spending, and of course, Amazon's profits, also boosted by Amazon Web Services, AWS, their cloud unit is a

giant in the industry, very, very profitable, that helps as well to subsidize if you will some of the lower margin parts of the retail


GIOKOS: All right, Paul La Monica, I hope you have a great weekend. Thank you so much for that update.

Now unlike the US, Europe's economy posted surprising growth in the second quarter. The Eurozone grew by seven-tenths of a percent compared to the

first three months of the year. It's not all rosy.

Eurozone inflation rose in July to a record high and Europe's largest economy, Germany is flatlining.

CNN's Anna Stewart looks at the numbers.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: We are ending the week on our high or are we?

Finally, a glimmer of good news and on a Friday, and I'm afraid I'm going to pour cold water all over it.

Much better than expected economic growth figures for Italy, France, and Spain. They all grew far more than expected in the second quarter. However,

a lot of that comes down to the reopening of the services sector post omicron surge, plus finally, a decent summer of tourism, which is perhaps

masking underlying weakness.

Germany posted nil growth, no surprise there given energy prices and the fact it is an economy powered by energy intensive factories, which have

also been hit by supply chain issues.

The EU Economic Commissioner summed up the GDP news well tweeting: "Good news. Euro area economy outperforms expectations in Q2. Uncertainty remains

high for the coming quarters though. Need to maintain unity and be ready to respond to an evolving situation as necessary."


STEWART: And the coming quarters are a concern.

Yesterday, the latest Business and Consumer Confidence surveys were published. Confidence in terms of industry, services, consumer retail,

construction, it's all pointing down. In Spain, which had posted better than expected growth today, we are just saw the biggest drop in confidence


Inflation rates higher once again coming in at 8.9 percent in July and the economists I've spoken to you today say they still expect Europe to head

into recession this year.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


GIOKOS: Up next, CNN's exclusive reporting on Russia's response involving the US proposed prisoner exchange. Details on that story, coming up. Stay

with us.


GIOKOS: Hello, I'm Eleni Giokos. And there is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when Ukraine is preparing to make its first grain shipments in

weeks. What it means for Ukraine's economy and the global food supply.

And if Ethiopia's ties to the West have been strained by civil conflict and warming relations with China -- with Russia rather -- and I'll be speaking

with Ethiopia's Development Minister.

Before that the news headlines this hour.

All right, so the US Secretary of State and his Russian counterpart spoke by phone for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine. Afterward, Antony

Blinken would not say if he thinks Moscow is more or less likely to agree to a high profile prisoner swap.

Now the US has offered to trade convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout for American basketball star Brittney Griner and former US Marine, Paul


US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to depart for Asia today, but she hasn't yet confirmed whether she plans to stop in Taiwan amid warnings from

China. Relations between Washington and Beijing are at a low point and China has aggressively pushed back at the idea of any visit.


Will Smith has posted a lengthy apology on Instagram for slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars. In the video, Smith says he has reached out to Rock and

being told by the comedian is that he's not ready to talk now the academy was banned -- banned rather Will Smith from attending the Oscars for the

next 10 years.

CNN has exclusively learned that Russia has responded to the prisoner swap offer for the release of two Americans imprisoned in Russia. Sources now

say Russia requested a colonel convicted of murder and in German custody, along with an infamous arms dealer in exchange for WNBA star Brittney

Griner and businessman Paul Whelan. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is in Moscow for us right now.

Fred, tell us a little bit more about this other prisoner Russia once and he was a colonel in Russia's spy agency.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Apparently this happened through backchannels between the United States and Russia.

This is all according to reporting from our own that Natasha Bertrand and the Russians apparently there said that on top of Viktor Bout, that

convicted Russian arms dealer, they also want a man named Vadim Krasikov.

Now, Vadim Krasikov is someone who the German says a former colonel in the Russian intelligence Service, the FSB and he's been in German custody for a

while for a murder that happened in Berlin in 2019. And for which he was convicted. He apparently they're a shot and killed a -- someone who used to

command a militia in Chechnya that fought against Russia and someone who the Russians consider a terrorist.

So Vadim Krasikov, the German court that later convicted him said, acted on orders from the Russian government, from the Russian special services. The

Germans say the Russians obviously deny that to this day. But this is someone who is an extremely important prisoner to the Russians. And this

whole case, which is known as the Tiergarten murder in Germany caused a massive spat between Germany and Russia.

And one of the interesting things about it is also that the conviction of Vadim Krasikov have actually happened, really only very shortly after the

new government. The Olaf Scholz government in Germany took power. And one of the first things that they did was expell several Russian diplomats for

what they say was a big breach of German sovereignty. So very interesting to see that apparently, the Russians wanted this man also included in any

possible deal to try and free Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. And he's currently in German custody. Have the Germans responded as yet?

PLEITGEN: Well, then none of this is obviously official. And certainly these inquiries aren't official either. This was all back channel dealings.

But we have heard from senior German government sources that yes, there was an inquiry that happened by the U.S. it was a very quiet low-key inquiry

about whether or not this is something that could be possible. It wasn't necessarily seen as something that could be serious by the Germans.

In fact, the U.S. itself didn't necessarily believe that this was a serious proposal that the Russians were making simply because this was someone who

was not an American custody, but it was in German custody. This apparently was not discussed on the top levels of the German government. And all this

is already several weeks back. So officially, there hasn't been any sort of reaction.

But we do know that there was an inquiry made by the United States which of course, underscores just how important it is for Washington to try and get

Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan released as fast as possible, Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much for that update.

Now Ukraine is ready. It says it's ready to ship grain from the Black Sea ports and that's in line with a breakthrough agreement with Russia last

week. But the loaded ships have not yet left the ports. Ukraine says it is waiting for the U.N. to confirm shipping routes. Today Ukrainian president

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and G7 ambassadors gathered at a port near Odesa in a show of unity calling on shipments to start.

Restarting grain shipments is (INAUDIBLE) is getting Ukraine's economy back on track and that's the most important thing but it's just the beginning.

Ukraine says its recovery will cost $750 billion once the war is over. It also needs billions in relief now. On Wednesday, the U.S. announced it will

donate $500 million through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Joining me is Odile Renaud-Basso.


President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Really good to see you. I want to talk about this 500 million that has been

donated by the United States and how that money is going to be spent. And if you are the gatekeeper of those funds, what kind of projects are you

hoping to target?


think it's the biggest donors contribution the EBRD ever received, is focused on supporting the real economy in Ukraine, and it's the objective

of this financing will be to share the risk with us. We are expanding loan to the real economy, big public companies in the area of infrastructure,

for example, in the electricity sector, railway sector, but also the private sector in agribusiness in order to produce agricultural products,

but also logistics.

And so all the value chain in the agricultural -- the agricultural sector because the pharmaceutical sector, so all this activity that EBRD is

financing in Ukraine will be supported by this U.S. subsidies which we cover half of the risk we are taking to support Ukraine.

GIOKOS: Yes. And as you said, this is a -- this is a really substantial fund coming through from the United States. Could you take me through some

of the most important project and you're talking about railways, you're talking about key infrastructure. How are you going to be targeting

specific projects? Are you expecting that the Ukrainians will come to the table with specific priorities?

RENAUD-BASSO: No. At that point of time, in particular, for the railway or for the electricity company, what we are doing is financing the working

capital of the company. So it's not to invest in project or capital expenditure, but it's to finance the liquidity needs of the company,

because of course, with the war, the revenues have collapsed. There are -- they have less clients or the clients cannot pay.

So they have financial needs in order to continue their activity. And we consider, I think that for the economy to keep going to remain afloat,

having a functioning electricity company, functioning railway company, we are also supporting the gas company. We are in order to undergo Naftogaz to

buy some gas and for the -- and to prepare for the next winter. So all this is much more supporting the liquidity needs.

When the situation will be clearer, when we -- then when we start the reconstruction, it may happen that we need to finance some reconstruction

project relatively soon because some key infrastructure may have been destroyed. But the bulk of the reconstruction will become I think a bit


GIOKOS: Yes. Your bank has actually been working in Ukraine for the past 30 years in terms of the transition. We know that there needs to be some

structural reforms in the country. But I guess you've seen the kind of work you've done. You've seen some of those infrastructure projects now

destroyed. How long do you think it's going to take to get the Ukrainian economy back on track?

Because usually we talk about reconstruction once the war is over, but I get what you're saying, you know, the big companies or big utilities need

working capital to keep things going, so that it doesn't completely collapse.

RENAUD-BASSO: I mean, it's very much depends on the war situation. I very much depend -- if you have very quickly the peace agreement and the -- and

the war is over, then the reconstruction will be quite rapid and start -- will start immediately and will be quite rapid. If the war is more

protracted, it will take more time, because of course part of the country, the country which in particular under the fire in the bulk of the war

cannot be supported at that -- at that point of time.

That is there is no investment in this area at all. So we are focusing on the (INAUDIBLE) in the midst of the war. More on the western part of the

country. And of course, the issue for the countries that if you have 20 percent as is the current situation of the country which is occupied and

really huge military pressure which is in the eastern part of the country used to be the one who is a heavy industry, for example.

This creates a challenge for the functioning of the economy. So I think what has been very impressive is the way the economy and has been

addressing because there has been a very sharp decrease, but we can see already some activities, rebounding somewhat. But of course the degree of

uncertainty also in relation with the war is a big obstacle because for (INAUDIBLE) very difficult to get foreign investors investing in developing

new projects in Ukraine, or even Ukrainian companies to develop new activities.


So they're adapting but it's very difficult to grow and to develop.

GIOKOS: Odile, thank you very much. Good to see you.

Very nice. Up next, Russia's Foreign Minister went to Ethiopia this week as part of his tour of Africa. I'll be speaking to Ethiopia's minister of

development above that visit, stay with us.


GIOKOS: We showed you earlier this hour how Russia has been plundering gold in Sudan, that is not the only place in Africa subject to Russian

overtures. This week, the country's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has been on tour in Africa where many countries have chosen not to sanction Russia.

Here's Lavrov visiting Ethiopia on Wednesday. He also visited Egypt, Congo and Uganda. Lavrov said the West was to blame for any food shortages in

Africa. Something which the White House today called the height of irony. Fitsum Assefa Adela is Ethiopia's Minister of Planning and development. And

she joins me now. Minister, really good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.

I want to start off with your inflationary environment right now which has been -- it's been extremely high now for over a year around 25 percent.

Could you give me an indication of how rising global food and fuel prices are impacting Ethiopia's economy right now?


different things due to COVID-19. And of course, now, the Ukraine-Russia conflict disrupted the supply chain. So, the impact to the Ethiopian

economy comes through prices, prices of fertilizer, oil, edible oil and fuel. So, it definitely has a stake on the, you know, the rising inflation


But of course (INAUDIBLE) inflation problem is not only a short-term phenomenon, it has been there for a long building from time to time because

of low productivity and competitiveness, which we have been trying to tackle through implementing in our reform or spend 10-year development

plan, which really envisions to increase productivity and competitiveness of the whole economy. Yes. So --

GIOKOS: Do you feel that to change your plan has been derailed it to a large extent, Minister, when I look at the, you know, conflict in Tigray,

when I look at the impact that it's had on, you know, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia's reputation to a large extent, you've had the World Bank now

coming in with funding, you've had international institutions saying they want to support Ethiopia.


But does that derail your plan because you've had internal issues?

ADELA: Of course, you know, when we crafted our development plan, we have been assumed such global as well as domestic shocks. But the good point

here is we have been implementing a comprehensive, homegrown economic reform to prepare to really bring back the economy to height growth

trajectory and build resilient economy, in which case, we have been really investing in agriculture to increase productivity in agro processing,

really bringing the agro processing factories and industrial parks into work.

So in this regard, for instance, we have the national quits program. So we have been producing wheat in lowland areas, which used to be really ideal

and we traditionally been waiting for rainy season. So using (INAUDIBLE) so we started from zero, now we are talking about 2.5 million pounds of


So, production, this really helped with, you know, the resilience of the economy even if, you know, the conflict in the northern part of the country

might have its own toll on the economy. But fact that we have been implementing this comprehensive reform really helped to stay in track.

GIOKOS: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Ethiopia and he said that the food crisis is not to blame -- to blame, you know, put the blame

on Russia. Do you feel that Africa is collateral damage in this war? And do you think that there's reticence by African leaders to denounce the war on

Ukraine because of strong diplomatic ties with Russia?

ADELA: Any conflict is to be denounced and, you know, it really needs resolution and talks and peace should be the way to go. But for us, for

Africa, and for Ethiopia, as well, this has been really a wake-up call because global shocks are happening, not only the Ukraine-Russia conflict,

the COVID-19 and other folks, you know, of related with the climate change. So, in this regard, the African continent should live -- look into its own

potential, unlock the potential and really be food self sufficient. And also, of course, do mitigation and adaptation works to be resilient to

climate shocks.

GIOKOS: Minister, just very quickly, as we head into this new uncertain environment, is there a major concern right now in Ethiopia that if this

war is prolonged, that African countries are going to be caught in the middle?

ADELA: Sure. For instance, you know, agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopian economy and most African countries really -- any country will be

affected by a disruption of global supply chain. For instance, for Ethiopia, you know, the shock comes through price of fertilizer. We import

all of our fertilizer for an instance. So our agriculture is huge and uses important fertilizer. It will definitely be impacted -- impacting the

agricultural production and productivity.

But we already set out proper mitigation for this because we have all the inputs to produce fertilizer within the country, so we're pushing towards

the start but such global shocks definitely be affecting and we don't want this war to be prolonged.

GIOKOS: Thank you so much, Minister Adela. Good to see you. Much appreciated for your time.


GIOKOS: Now fans rejoice. A new Beyonce album is here. Renaissance and the controversy surrounding it. That's coming up next. Stay with us.



GIOKOS: Step aside. Donatello and DaVinci. A new renaissance is here. The highly-anticipated Beyonce album dropped today but not without some pre-

release drama. Leaks of the album were reported earlier this week throughout the U.S. and Europe and drove members of her devoted fan base.

The hive to band together and resist early listening. The superstar singer took to Twitter to thank fans for their patience saying she had never seen

anything like it.

Renaissance as Beyonce is seventh studio album and she says this is just act one of three she recorded over the pandemic. Chloe Melas is in New York

for us. Chloe, really good to see you. This is exciting. Give me a sense of her devoted fans not wanting to listen and break that code.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well, like you said Beyonce came out and she said, I do not know how this leaked. But clearly, somebody

wanted you guys to get to the club a little early. So, this was a more traditional album rollout. Usually Beyonce surprises all of us like with

Lemonade, just drops the entire album with some music videos and we're left to sort of like binge it for the next 24 hours.

She had already released a song several weeks ago that hit the top of the charts but people are loving it. It's a dance anthem. And like you said

there are going to be two other acts. There's a Renaissance two and a Renaissance three that are going to be coming out. We don't know when but

so far people are really, really loving it and true Beyonce fashion she has taught herself yet again and people are just so ready for some new solo

music from her because it has been so many years since we've heard a solo album.

GIOKOS: Yes. And it's resonating with her -- with her audience. The album's first single Break My Soul had a pretty pointed message. I want you to take

a listen.



GIOKOS: Well, that line, I just quit my job set off, social media trained by people inspired to do the same. Some of them called Break my Soul, the

anthem of the great resignation. How does Beyonce managed to have that kind of reach. It's also resonate with what's going on on the ground. That's

what fascinates me.

MELAS: Well, I mean look, she has 250 million Instagram followers. She is a global icon and superstar and her songs always have a deeper meaning. And

when it comes to the great resignation, so many people feeling burned out, reflecting on their life in the middle of, you know, in the midst of this

ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and thinking about how they really want to truly live their lives to the fullest.


And she was speaking to that. She said that she was inspired, you know, to make this album during the pandemic. And she threw herself into her music.

But like you said, I mean, look, within 24 hours of the release of that song, you actually had how to resign. It jumped by 350 percent in terms of

a Google search topic. So she does have a lot of power and influence. And also I just want to say that the album itself Renaissance part one is an

ode and an anthem to the LGBTQ community.

And she actually dedicates it to her late uncle who was gay. And so it's very, very poignant. And I can't wait to see what she does with the other

two albums. We're all waiting.

GIOKOS: Exciting times. Yes. Chloe Melas, thank you so much.

Well, there are just a few moments to go before trade on Wall Street comes to an end. We'll have the final numbers and the closing bell right after

this. Stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: All right. We've got moments to go before Wall Street closers for the month actually. The Dow is up more than 350 points as you can see now

it's 313. It's up almost one percent And it's nearly up seven percent on the month. The S&P 500 is on track for the best month since 2020. It's

getting such a huge boost from the strong tech and energy earnings that we saw today. Apple and Amazon beat expectations. So Chevron and Exxon posted

record quarterly profits on high fuel prices.

And the Dow components also looking really strong today. Chevron leading the gains, Apple up there as well. Intel is down over eight percent as

demand for P.C. chips calls as well but was mostly a green day.


And listen, despite the fact that we had a negative number on U.S. GDP for the second quarter and we've had some bad economic data this week, the

markets really robust. A lot of this bad news has been price in. And of course, a lot of big boost coming through from some really strong numbers

as well on the earnings front. That's it for QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai. Richard Quest is back with you on Monday.

Closing bell is ringing. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts.