Tajikistan Foreign Trade Up 20.8% On 2021
Covid recovery continues in Central Asia and especially countries with significant China and Russia trade. Tajikistan’s foreign trade turnover increased from January through May 2022, according to the Customs Service of Tajikistan.
Tajikistan’s main trade partners, in order are Russia, Kazakhstan, and China, followed by Turkey, Uzbekistan and Switzerland. This year to date, Tajikistan’s foreign trade turnover up to, and including May, increased by 20.8 percent compared to the same period of last year, reaching US$2.9 billion.
According to Tajik customs, Tajikistan has imported goods worth US$1.9 billion, 25.8% up from the same period in 2021. However, Tajik exports were down at about US$1 billion, 5.5% less.
Tajikistan’s main imports are wheat, refined petroleum, raw iron, and automobiles. It exports mainly gold, raw aluminum, raw cotton and zinc ore. However the country is embarking on a period of infrastructure development and wishes to develop as a transit hub for goods between China and Central Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.
Tajikistan is landlocked and mountainous, however strategically placed as a bridge between China, Central Asia and beyond – if it can get infrastructure build into place. It has pinned its national development programme on goods transit and there have been discussions about connecting Tajikistan with China via rail, although a direct route over the Pamir Mountains is almost impossible to build. Instead, a route into Tajikistan via the countries northern border with Kyrgyzstan is being considered. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have recently been meeting to discuss a revival of this plan.
Tajik regional trade could also get a boost from Russian trade and investment in the wake of the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s need to turn east. Russian President Putin has been talking up the importance of Russia-Tajik trade which has increased by 77% since March as Russian exporters look for new markets.
Many other highway and tunnel construction projects are underway, or have been completed, including rehabilitation of the Dushanbe–Chanak Highway between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, financed and constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC).
The key to the dreams of an interconnected Tajikistan will take serious planning and infrastructure investment to get the required highway and rail systems in place. But with Russia now on board throwing its weight behind Central Asia, an arrangement between China, Russia and Tajikistan, possibly with the assistance of AIIB funding and regional assistance may yet see his vision eventually become reality. It would also make for a spectacular tourism rail journey.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.dezshira.com