Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Trade Turnover Up 19.5% In 2021

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Belt and Road countries close to China continue to reap the rewards from the exploitation of BRI built infrastructure. According to preliminary data released by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Economy and Commerce, Kyrgyzstan’s foreign trade turnover reached US$6.8 billion – 19.5% more than in 2020. That is a significant jump for a relatively small Central Asian economy.

Of the total, non-gold exports amounted to US$1.61 billion, excluding gold, while gold exports reached US$1.25 billion, up 26.7% from 2020. Imports were at US$5.19 billion, up 39.6%. Kyrgyz exports are comprised mainly of gold, re-exported oil, agricultural goods, and light industry. A long-planned for China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway has yet to be agreed upon; but should that happen would provide a significant economic boost. The sticking point is the construction cost as Kyrgyzstan is mountainous, with planned routes requiring up to 100 tunnels. Overland trade therefore is currently via road, and not always passable in the winter months.

The Kyrgyz Ministry of Commerce has been discussing planning events to further expand its economic and trade cooperation. 34 meetings of intergovernmental councils and commissions with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, South Korea, and Hungary were held during 2021, during which agreements on cooperation in various economic spheres were reached.

The Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Business Forum was followed by the establishment of Uzbek-Kyrgyz Development Fund with a charter capital of US$200 million. Also, about 60 joint projects worth over US$550.4 million have been planned, while foreign trade contracts totaling US$3.2 million were signed during the recent Kyrgyz business forum in Dubai. These include work on creation and functioning of three wholesale-distribution centers and one industrial trade and logistics complex.

The Kyrgyz Ministry of Economy have also launched the “Central Asian Trade Information Portal” and the Information Trade Portal of Kyrgyzstan to strengthen export potential and regional integration of Central Asian countries for the development of trade.

Although relatively small and landlocked, Kyrgyzstan is strategically placed as an overland transit route to and from China and is starting to develop as an ‘added value’ investment hub for additional manufacturing processes between Central Asia and the huge Chinese markets. It is also a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, along with nearby Kazakhstan, and Russia, and has free trade agreements through the EAEU with Singapore and Vietnam.

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Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email or visit us at