Ashgabat, 29 Jan—By the remarks of President Berdymuhamedov at the cabinet meeting on Friday, it is clear that Turkmenistan will focus more on industrialization, export promotion and import substitution.
While the upgraded strategy and plan could be expected only after the presidential elections due next month, what is clear immediately is that there is the strong desire to wean the country from the dependence on the hydrocarbon revenues.
The immediate approach is to establish the industries and production facilities that would help reduce imports. While this will save the precious foreign exchange, it would also create new jobs. The electronic sector has been chosen as the pioneering area where it is possible to start with assembling and gradually move to deletion of imported parts, depending on the feasibility of local production and the capacity to absorb the end products in the local and foreign markets.
In some cases, such as the production of street lights and roadside ornaments, the sole client could be the government. Even then, the benefit would be the same – saving of foreign exchange and creation of new jobs.
With the large-scale greenhouses built in the vicinity of major cities, Turkmenistan is approaching the surplus capacity in some fruit and vegetables. This has led to the plans to set up agro-industries for downstream processing and packaging. A possible example can be the production of soft drinks and confectionery based on melons and watermelons.
Together with this, Turkmenistan is getting connected fast in all directions by road, rail, air and sea.
The foreign partners need to think a couple of steps ahead to harness and new and emerging opportunities. Several areas can be identified where partnership potential is growing including specialized transportation, independent quality assurance inspection, insurance, bank payments, instruments of transaction (letter of credit etc.), and marketing consultancy.