Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan give priority to strengthening cooperation with each other, whose relations are based on common deep historical roots and religion, the similarity of language, culture, national traditions and customs. Regular mutual contacts at the highest and other levels are a clear indicator of the countries’ commitment to further strengthening the constructive political dialogue and building up mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. Thus, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov arrived in the capital of Uzbekistan on a two-day state visit on July 14-15 at the invitation of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. A day earlier, Tashkent and Ashgabat signed investment and trade agreements for $451 million during the first interregional forum in Bukhara.
Trade and economic relations
A key place in relations between the two countries is given to trade and economic cooperation. Thus, if in 2016 the indicators of mutual trade amounted to just over $200 million, by the end of 2021 this figure has grown to $882 million. It should be noted that trade turnover has never shown such dynamics before. Turkmenistan’s exports to Uzbekistan in 2021 exceeded $690.6 million, which is 59.7% more than in 2020. Uzbekistan’s exports to Turkmenistan last year reached $191.3 million, which is 65.9% more than in 2020. Agricultural machinery, fruits and vegetables, mineral fertilizers, building materials, chemical and textile products, and various services are exported from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan. Oil products, mechanical equipment, polymers and other chemical products are imported from Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan.
A significant share in the development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries is made by joint projects of industrial cooperation, as well as joint ventures operating in the territory of the two states in various economic spheres. Thus, in recent years, the number of enterprises with the participation of Turkmen capital has increased 15 times in Uzbekistan, increasing from 11 to 160. Also, there are 61 companies operating in Turkmenistan with the participation of residents of Uzbekistan, including Uzavtosanoat JSC and Uzagrotekhsanoatholding JSC. Additionally, in October 2021, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed to develop cooperation in various industries, including the assembly of cars, the production of chemical goods and construction materials, and the deep processing of cotton fibre.
Cross-border trade and direct links between regions are also actively developing. In particular, in August 2018, delegations led by the khokims of the Khorezm and Bukhara regions visited Dashoguz and Lebap, and in September 2021, representatives of the Dashoguz and Lebap velayats visited the Khorezm and Bukhara regions. Last year, following the results of the 16th meeting of the Uzbek-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan agreed to create a border trade zone and bring trade to $1 billion.
Transport and logistics sector
The sphere of transport also plays a priority role in bilateral relations. The development of transport and logistics interconnectedness is one of the key factors that should give a powerful impetus to bilateral and regional cooperation.
- Firstly, today the countries of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, due to their geographical location, have restrictions on accessing large global markets.
- Secondly, the current geopolitical realities in connection with the sanctions policy towards Russia and Belarus limit the possibilities of the northern transport corridors, through which a significant part of the transportation of goods from the region was carried out.
Under these conditions, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan understand that they need to coordinate their efforts in developing their transport and transit capabilities. For example, on June 6, 2022, representatives of Uzbekistan Temir Yollari JSC and the Türkmendemirýollary Agency discussed the organization of container cargo transportation along multimodal transport corridors, the possibility of increasing cargo transportation in transit traffic and cooperation in the field of infrastructure development.
Today, through the territory of Turkmenistan, a large cargo flow of Uzbek goods is carried out to the borders of Iran and further to the ports of the Persian Gulf. In addition, the parties are working together to maximize the potential of the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Caspian Sea-South Caucasus transport route. This corridor is designed to provide access to the Black Sea ports of Georgia, Turkey, Romania and other states. The volumes of goods transported by roads and railways between the two countries are consistently increasing. In particular, in 2021, international cargo transportation between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan amounted to almost 2 million tons, an increase of 18% compared to 2020, including 1.7 million tons by rail and 0.3 million tons by road.
Similar positions on Afghanistan
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have a similar position on promoting the economic integration of Afghanistan through the implementation of large infrastructure projects. The implementation of energy, transport and communication projects on the territory of Afghanistan plays a big role in this. For example, Turkmenistan participates in projects for the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) power transmission line, promotes the development of railway communications, and also provides humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. Uzbekistan, in addition to increasing trade cooperation, actively implemented large interstate infrastructure projects such as the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway and the Surkhan-Puli-Khumri power line. In other words, both countries are taking measures to develop trade, economic, transport, logistics and energy ties with Afghanistan, implementing joint infrastructure projects, and providing comprehensive humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
As a result, it can be stated that the further strengthening and development of bilateral partnership between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan meets the fundamental interests of the two fraternal and neighbouring states and serves to ensure peace, stability and common prosperity in the region.