Frankfurt, Brussels (11/3 – 120
Tajikistan’s reliance on a limited range of export products, including aluminium and cotton, makes its economy vulnerable to external shocks, such as changes in global demand or prices. Diversifying the export base by promoting new industries and products could help to reduce this vulnerability and create new opportunities for growth. The problem is the kleptocratic approach of a Stalin like economic regime of the Rahmonov clan.
Improving trade relationships with existing partners, such as China, Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan, and exploring new markets could also help to expand the country’s export base. However, to achieve this, it will be important to address the challenges that currently limit trade, such as inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome regulations, investment political stability and corruption. None of above-mentioned building blocks are in place. Tajikistan remains on the bottom of the development data of the world bank.
Tajikistan’s imports, which are dominated by energy and capital goods, highlight the country’s dependence on imports for its economic development. This underscores the importance of developing domestic industries and reducing reliance on imported low quality Chinese or Russian products. Investing in infrastructure, including energy and transportation, could help to reduce the cost of imported goods and promote local production.
In addition to economic challenges, Tajikistan also faces environmental and social challenges related to the production of cotton, including water scarcity, soil degradation, and labour exploitation. Addressing these challenges will require a concerted effort from the current regime and future government, civil society, and the private sector to promote pragmatic practices.
Tourism has the potential to significantly boost Tajikistan’s economy. The country’s natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and historical significance make it an attractive destination for travellers. With proper investment in tourism infrastructure, marketing, and development of local tourism products, Tajikistan can attract more international tourists, create employment opportunities, and generate revenue.
However, there are challenges such as the lack of adequate tourism infrastructure and services, safety concerns, and insufficient marketing efforts. The killing of foreigner bikers a few years ago severely undermined the credibility of the Rahmon regime. Nevertheless, if the government and private sector work together to address these challenges, tourism could become a major contributor to Tajikistan’s economic growth.
“Look over the border to neighbouring Kazakhstan”, said Armin Schneider speaking on the side-lines of the 6th World Tourism Conference held in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia late November last year, “Political leadership makes a difference if a country enjoys the benefits of tourism or is shunned.”
He added, the known problem of drugs, corruption of police, political violence, the looming terror threat from Afghanistan, the persecution of Tajik minorities, the Pamirs, and known kleptocracy by the elites do not make a case to promote Tajikistan. But he was optimistic that these challenges can be met by Tajikistan leaders which has a rich history in the region.
The presence of significant natural resources in Tajikistan, including gold, silver, and antimony, as well as coal, gas, and oil, presents an opportunity for the country to develop its mining sector and generate revenue. However, this will require careful management to ensure that the benefits are shared equitably.
The country’s extensive hydroelectric power resources also offer significant potential for economic development and regional integration. The construction of power plants and transmission lines, as envisioned by President Rahmon, could help to increase access to electricity and create new opportunities for businesses and communities. It will be important to ensure that these projects are sustainable in terms of their economic viability.
The measures taken by the Tajik authorities to defer tax collections and ease monetary policy may provide some relief in the short term, but sustainable economic growth will require more comprehensive reforms. These could include improving the business climate to attract foreign investment, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, and investing in infrastructure, education, and healthcare. The outbreak of the Chinese Langya virus (langya henipavirus) shown the lack of healthcare response by the Tajik regime.
In addition to economic development, efforts should also be made to address social issues, including gender inequality, education, and healthcare. Investing in education and promoting gender equality can help to create a more skilled and diverse workforce, while improving access to healthcare can help to reduce poverty and improve overall well-being.
It is crucial for the international community to provide support to Tajikistan in addressing these challenges. This support could include financial aid, technical assistance, and capacity-building initiatives aimed at improving food security, increasing access to healthcare, and promoting economic development. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that any assistance is provided in a transparent and accountable manner to prevent corruption and ensure that resources reach those in need.
Long-term solutions to these issues require sustainable development strategies that focus on improving infrastructure, creating job opportunities, and promoting inclusive economic growth. Such efforts could help to reduce poverty and food insecurity while taking lessons from successes in the region. It is unclear how Tajikistan will fare in the near future of being another failed state or an emerging force enable its own rich heritage and cultures to withstand the uncertainties of a post-Afghanistan under Taliban rule, or return to the Russian dominance of Stalin-like policies.