Russian Trade with Turkmenistan Hits Record Levels

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  • Trade surpasses US$1 billion for first time 
  • Bodes well for potential Turkmen-EAEU FTA 

The Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has stated that bilateral trade between Russia and Turkmenistan increased by almost 40% in 2020 and is now about US$1 billion. To compare, Turkmenistan trade with the United States is about US$20 million and with China about US$6 billion, mainly in gas exports.

Turkmenistan is a relatively closed country and has not joined any regional or international trade organisations, although that may soon change with apparent interest in joining the Eurasian Economic Union.

Turkmenistan’s primary sources of imports are Turkey, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates, and include machinery and equipment, vehicles, metals, and chemical products. Most of its exports go to China, and it mainly exports gas, though it also exports petroleum, cotton, and related products. The country has the world’s 4th largest LNG reserves, and over the past few years has been improving its trade infrastructure, including road and rail networks and developed the Caspian Sea Port of Turkmenbashi. Turkmenistan is also part of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) supplying gas to South Asia.

“Russia is sincerely interested in strengthening friendship, good-neighborly relations, partnership, mutual economic development with Turkmenistan,” Mishustin added. According to him, Moscow would like to “boost bilateral cooperation, create the necessary conditions for restarting promising joint projects and initiatives in various areas of the economy.”

According to the Prime Minister, the two countries “have made serious progress in the sphere of trade, despite the crisis and global processes that do not easily affect mutual relations.” He cited data from Russian customs, which indicate that trade is at a record level over the past five years.

In turn, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Serdar Berdimuhamedow stressed that the country “pays great attention to cooperation with Russia, the main factor in the dynamic development of relations is an open, friendly political dialogue between the presidents of the two countries.” According to him, interaction is developing in all sectors. Over time, that may lead to an opening up of trade with a FTA with the Eurasian Economic Union and membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, where the country is currently recognised as an attending guest.

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