Tajikistan becoming increasingly dependent on China

28/06/2016 13:29
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DUSHANBE, June 28, 2016, Asia-Plus – An article “Tajikistan, Turkmenistan Submit to Chinese Capture” that was posted on EurasiaNet.org’s website on March 24 notes that Tajikistan is becoming increasingly dependent on China.

“Trade turnover between Tajikistan and China reached more than $200 million in the first three months of 2016,” the Tajik president’s official website said on June 23 after a meeting between Tajik leader Emomali Rahmon and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent.  “Moreover, certainty has been expressed that through joint efforts, that indicator could be increase to $3 billion [per year] by 2020.”

The total-year figure for 2015 was $793 million.  Most of those goods are going from China into Tajikistan.  Only around 8.5 percent of Tajikistan’s overall exports go to China.

The article notes that the growing importance of China does not necessarily reflect health in Tajikistan’s economy, but the retrenchment of traditional partners like Russia.  Chinese direct investments into Tajikistan in 2015 came to $273 million — 58 percent of the overall total.  Russia’s direct investment dropped to a total of $35 million in 2015, down to a proportion of 7.4 percent from 30 percent in 2010.

Russia will remain a core element of Tajikistan’s economic survival as long as hundreds of thousands of Tajik laborers earn their incomes there, but figures on remittances over the past couple of years hint at a major shift.  Russia’s Central Bank announced in March that the amount of money transferred to Tajikistan last year had fallen almost 67 percent, from $3.8 billion in 2014 to $1.28 billion in 2015. The figure in 2013 was $4.16 billion.

Half of Tajikistan’s $2 billion in external debt is owed to Russia.

The potential consequences of Tajikistan’s growing economic reliance on China reportedly came into sharper focus in 2011, when Dushanbe agreed to hand over around 1 percent of its territory to Beijing in exchange for having some of its debts forgiven. On the positive side for Dushanbe, China has shown that it puts its money where its mouth is.

In the most recent development, construction began earlier this month on a metals processing plant in the northern town of Istiqlol, which is being completed with $200 million dollars of Chinese cash. Tatyana Panteleyeva, head of the economic development department in the Istiqlol city administration, said that was only the start. “Here, across 70 hectares of land, there are plans to create a Tajik-Chinese industrial zone.  We will build five industrial enterprises,” Panteleyeva was quoted as saying by Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service.

The government announced earlier in 2016 that China plans to plow $500 million into building seven industrial concerns in the north of the country.


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