Tajikistan: Officials sign deal to modernise TALCO, the country’s largest industrial enterprise

Tajikistan: Officials sign deal to modernise TALCO, the country’s largest industrial enterprise
TALCO workers moving product. / Tajik presidential administration
By Eurasianet May 21, 2024

China is poised to help Tajikistan complete some major infrastructure projects, including modernisation of the state-controlled TALCO aluminium plant, the country’s largest industrial enterprise. 

TALCO, which Tajik President Emomali Rahmon once described as “Tajikistan’s business card,” has been increasing output of late; it produced over 66,000 tonnes of aluminium in 2023, a 7% increase over the previous year’s total. In 2024, output is projected to jump to 84,000 tonnes. But the company’s economics director, Pavel Dyck, indicated in April that growth is hampered by production bottlenecks, adding that the entity was searching for an investor.

On May 19, at the conclusion of a two-day visit to Tajikistan by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, officials from both countries signed a cooperation programme for 2025-26. Initial reports provided scant details on the contents of the programme.

Earlier in May, Chinese and Tajik officials signed a protocol during an inter-governmental meeting in Beijing, outlining plans for China to help Tajik officials complete not just TALCO’s modernisation, but also infrastructure projects in the capital Dushanbe, the construction of a logistics centre in Dangara, (Rahmon’s home town) and an upgrade of a highway in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) to facilitate Europe-bound truck cargo originating in China.

Following the intergovernmental meeting, the Avesta news agency quoted China’s deputy commerce minister, Lin Zi, as saying bilateral relations had reached a “qualitatively new level.” However, the protocol signed between the two states did not provide many specifics about construction timelines or levels of financial assistance. According to official Tajik data, Chinese-Tajik trade turnover in 2023 totalled $1.5bn, a 24% increase over the previous year’s level. The balance of trade tilts heavily in Beijing’s favour. 

This article first appeared on Eurasianet here.