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TAJIKISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,303 1,208 1,100 148
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 190 180 180 197
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
143,100 

Population 
7,011,556

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Tajiks 62.3%
Uzbeks 23.5%
Russians 17.6%

Capital 
Dushanbe

Currency 
Tajik Somoni

President 
Emomali Rakhmonov



Update No: 306 - (29/06/06)

Tajikistan bucks the trend in Central Asia
Not all news is bad news. But the latter is more exciting and attention-worthy. Sometimes the good news is simply not being reported properly.
Most of the news from Central Asia is about rigged elections, the torture of dissidents, massacres of civilians and economic decline. On the far edge of the Central Asia landmass, amid the rugged Pamir mountains, Tajikistan is trying to open its borders to serve as a new route for north-south trade, while allowing Islamists and Communists to sit together in Parliament. 
There are still some restrictions on political freedom in Tajikistan, but compared with its Central Asian neighbours it is providing a model of political maturity. 
In 1997 the United Nations brokered a peace deal to end a four-year civil war that had claimed 50,000 of Tajikistan's six million people. Western promises of substantial aid to help the country recover never materialized. Grinding poverty and economic decline followed, with 600,000 Tajiks leaving to seek work in Russia. The local drugs mafia traded heroin freely with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. 
Much of that is now in the past, and Dushanbe, the capital, is showing signs of prosperity. For the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union, people are actually smiling, despite the shortage of electricity and the biting cold. Tajikistan's economy is growing at the rate of 8 percent a year, workers are returning from Russia, foreign investment in the mining industry is up and, since 9/11, so is Western aid. 
Even though 100 tons of heroin still cross the Afghan-Tajik border annually, destined for Europe, the government has sponsored a popular campaign among mothers and teenagers to combat drug abuse - the first of its kind in Central Asia. The United Nations has helped establish an antinarcotics unit in the government, which is perhaps the least corrupt in the region. And the European Union, the United States, Russia and China are helping to fund and arm a new Tajik force on the Afghan border to keep drugs out. 

Enlightened despotism? 
Like other Central Asian autocrats, President Emamoli Rakhmanov has been castigated for unfair elections and harassment of those who do not toe the government line, but he tolerates an opposition that includes members of the Islamic Renaissance Party who fought in the civil war against him. 
The Islamic Renaissance Party has two seats in Parliament and its deputy chairman, Moheyuddin Kabiri, speaks of an evolution toward a more Islamic society, rather than a revolution, and sympathizes with the difficult balancing act that Rakhmanov has to manage. The other Central Asian states, especially Uzbekistan, are livid that Tajikistan's president allows Islamists to sit in Parliament. 

The hub of geopolitical developments in Central Asia
But what is really making the rest of the world sit up and take notice, from Brussels to Beijing, is Tajikistan's swiftly changing geopolitical situation. 
Tajikistan is landlocked, with China and Afghanistan to the south and east and Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to the north. For a long time Uzbekistan offered the only trade route out to Russia and the West, but the Uzbeks have ruthlessly mined the border, ostensibly to stop Islamic extremists but in reality to put the pressure on Tajikistan to toe the Uzbek line. 
Now China has built a new road, replacing the ancient camel trails linking Xinjiang, its westernmost province, with Tajikistan. That means a new trade outlet for Tajikistan. In addition, the Americans are building a bridge across the Amu Darya River, known to the west as the Oxus, which divides Afghanistan and Tajikistan. 
Once the bridge is completed, China's new road will allow China and Tajikistan to send goods through Afghanistan to Pakistan's southern ports. Imports into Central Asia can also travel this new route. From Dushanbe they can be distributed to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China. 
Tajikistan also stands to gain if regional trade increases. A new report by the UN Development Programme says that Central Asia could double its regional trade by reducing artificial trade barriers and loss-making protectionism. That would also help to lower the smuggling and drugs trade that accounts for 40 per cent of Central Asia's economies. 
Meanwhile, the United States, Russia and China are vying for military bases in Tajikistan. Rakhmanov is playing his hand adroitly. The Russians have an air base, and so does France, under the auspices of NATO. 
Tajikistan is still weak and poor, however, and will not be able to progress further unless the political habits of other Central Asian leaders change and the West is willing to be more liberal with its aid. 

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Dushanbe, Tehran discuss economic cooperation


Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, met with the Tajik Deputy Foreign Minister, Salohiddin Nasriddinov, on May 4th in Baku to discuss expansion of ties between the two countries, Interfax News Agency reported.
The meeting was held on the eve of the ninth summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO), which began on May 5th. Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are the member states of the organisation. At the meeting, Mottaki spoke on the friendly relations between the two countries and expressed hope that bilateral relations will also improve. He stressed that implementation of the Anzab project was manifestation of the two sides determination. According to Mottaki, both countries share historical, cultural views and a common language and this further deepen relations between the two countries. For his part, Nastriddinov highlighted the significant role of Iran in restoration of peace and stability to the region and said the country plays a very grave role to this end. We appreciate cooperation of Iranian companies in implementing development projects in Tajikistan and attach importance to them," he said.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Dushanbe, Tehran to boost defence ties 

Tajik Defence Minister, Sherali Khairulloyev, and his Iranian counterpart, Mostafa Mohammad Najar, discussed a wide range of issues related to bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the defence area, the Iranian media reported. 
The Iranian authorities are ready to help Tajikistan bolster the defence capabilities of its army and improve its security, Najar said. The Iranian government appreciates Tajikistan's support of Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology, the minister said. No external factors are able to influence relations between the two countries, he added. Bilateral and multilateral contacts should continue since they help maintain stability and security in the region and promote cooperation between the region's countries, Khairulloyev said.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Dushanbe, Tehran to expand relations 

A meeting took place between the commander of Tajikistan's Border Guard Committee, Saeed Amir Zohourev, and Iranian Defence Minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar. During the talks, Najjar stressed that Tajikistan has a crucial position in Iran's defence policy. Endorsement of a defence agreement between the two countries and Iran's partnership in the construction of Anzab tunnel and Sangtoudeh water power plant are instances of cooperation of both states, added Najjar. He viewed the significant role of the commonalities the two countries share in the development of extensive defence cooperation, reported Interfax News Agency.
The minister further underlined that the two countries' identical stances and effective role in the region require development of all-out ties, particularly in the defence-technical sector, in compliance with the international rules. For his part, Zohourev appreciated Iran's support aids to his country and said that Tajikistan is ready to use Iran's experiences in areas of border guarding and campaign against drug trafficking. He also said Tajikistan welcomes endorsement of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in the said grounds. According to Zohourev, Iranians and Tajikistanis are like a single nation as both countries share same background, culture and language. The Tajik official also stressed Iran's right of access to peaceful nuclear technology and reiterated that Iran should not be pressurized for practicing the inalienable and indubitable rights entitled to it by the international rules and regulations. He said both countries are ready to expand relations.

Tajik foreign minister visits China 

Tajik Foreign Minister, Talbak Nazarov, left for China on an eight-day official visit, the Tajik foreign ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Nazarov was to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, and visit several Chinese cities in an effort to build up trade cooperation. On May 15th, Nazarov attended a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which comprises China, Russia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. 
India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status in the organisation. Afghanistan's admission as an observer is currently under consideration. Trade between China and Tajikistan grew by 6.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2006, year-on-year, reaching 22.4 million Euro, which accounts for 3.2 per cent of Tajikistan's foreign trade turnover. Tajikistan exported 1.2 million Euro worth of commodities to China and imported Chinese commodities worth 21.2 million Euro.

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MINERALS & METALS

RusAl to invest 5 n Euro to complete Rogun plant 

Russian Aluminium has started preparation work as part of a project to complete the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant in Tajikistan, the RusAl office in Dushanbe said in a statement, Interfax News Agency reported. 
In total the company plans to invest 50 million Euro in preparation work. "Investment will be made in creating the necessary conditions to train and house specialists that will work on building the plant, priority work to restore and build the necessary infrastructure and also the purchase of special construction equipment," the press release said. Construction of the Rogun plant on the Vakhsh River began in March 1981, but was halted in 1993 due to lack of funds and the difficult political situation in Tajikistan. In autumn 2004 the republic signed a cooperation agreement with RusAl dealing, among other things, with financing for the completion of the Rogun plant, with a design capacity of 3600 megawatts and annual production of 13.1 billion kWh of electricity. RusAl investment in the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant should amount to about one billion Euro. RusAl plans to use the cheap energy produced by the plant for an aluminium plant that it plans to build in Tajikistan. The launch of the Rogun Hydroelectric Plant will make Tajikistan the largest electricity exporter in the region. 

Tajiksitan drops aluminium smelter privatisation plans

Tajikistan has dropped plans to privatise the Tadjiksky Aluminium Plant (TadAZ), Emomali Rahmonov, the country's president, said at a business forum in Astana, Kazakstan. Privatisation is off the agenda right now, Rahmonov said, New Europe reported.
"The question is not one of privatisation, but one of cooperation," he said, adding that Kazakstan had expressed an interest in buying into the smelter at talks on May 4th.
Rahmonov also suggested establishing direct supplies of Kazak alumina to the TadAZ smelter. "We could sign a deal for 200,000 tonnes, 300,000 tonnes or at least 100,000 tonnes right now if you like," he said.
Rahmonov said TadAZ was running at the sort of capacity to produce 400,000 tonnes of aluminium per year. It produced 386,000 tonnes in Soviet times. "We'll hit 420,000 tonnes this year," he said. Capacity at the smelter, which was built in 1976 and is 60 kilometres west of Dushanbe, is 600,000 tpy. Aluminium exports account for about half of Tajikistan's forex revenue. The Tajik government had planned to draft a privatisation plan for the smelter by the middle of 2005. Russia-based aluminium companies RusAl and SUAL have said they were interested in buying into the smelter. Agreements were signed in Dushanbe in October 2004 stating that RusAl would invest 150 million Euro modernising two potlines at TadAZ.

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