Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has signed a decree setting new tariffs on imports of vehicles into the country, news agency Trend.az reported on March 8. The purpose of setting new tariffs is “to protect the interests of consumer in terms of using environmentally clean and comfortable products in Turkmenistan”, according to the statement. The report did not provide figures on tariffs and types of cars subject to tariffs.
Despite the reasoning provided by the Turkmen government, the true goal for restricting car imports might be related to the lobbying power of the president’s relatives in the country - the president’s nephews own Kia, Hyundai and Ford car dealerships in Ashgabat, according to opposition-run news website chrono-tm.org. The news website reported speculations on links between the family’s car business and various bans on car imports. Some of the import bans set throughout the last seven years included right-hand-drive cars, sport and two-door cars and black-coloured vehicles, according to chrono-tm.org. Other criteria for restrictions and bans have included engine capacities.
Turkmenistan is also facing problems with inflow of hard currency to the country as the low energy prices have depressed its export earnings. The new car import duties could also be linked to government attempts to limit the outflow of hard currency from the country by making car imports expensive.
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