OUTLOOK 2015: Russia effect hits Central Asia to greater and lesser degrees

By bne IntelliNews December 19, 2014

Naubet Bisenov and Jacopo Dettoni in Almaty

bne IntelliNews

The Asian Development Bank, in its latest "Asian Development Outloook Supplement" published on December 17, cut the growth outlook for Central Asia to 5.1% from the previous 5.6% for the full-year 2014 and to 5.4% from the previous 5.9% for 2015. The countries in the region most exposed to Russia – Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – are feeling the full effects of the crisis there, while the more closed economies appear more sheltered from the problems, though are still being hit by the fall in remittances.

"Central Asian economies are feeling the impact [of the slowdown in Russia] through reduced remittance inflows and muted external demand, which is undermining growth in Armenia, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan," the report reads. "Positive news in Tajikistan (where robust construction is more than compensating for the effect of the slowdown in the Russian Federation) and in Turkmenistan (where climbing gas exports are expected to boost 2015 growth) is insufficient to offset slowdowns in the rest of the subregion."

Falling oil prices and geopolitical tensions in the region, as well as the weaker demand for Kazakh exports from the country's main trading partners, are painting a bleaker picture for Kazakhstan’s economic growth in 2015. The stagnant oil and gas sector due to repeated delays in industrial production in the giant Kashagan oilfield and lower global prices of metals has meant industrial output fell in the first 10 months, picking up only in November to give a meagre increase of 0.1% for the January-November period.

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