Trade between China and four of five “Stans” expands at rapid rate in 2023

By bne IntelliNews February 4, 2024

Trade between China and the countries of Central Asia expanded at a rapid rate in 2023, with the exception of Turkmenistan, according to data published by China’s customs agency, or GACC.

However, the trade flows are increasingly in favour of Beijing.

Annual trade turnover for the region as a whole, as reported by the GACC was $89.4bn in 2023. The figure represented a 27% expansion over 2022’s $70.2bn. Of the goods and services recorded for last year, $61.4bn worth were exported from China to Central Asia. Beijing’s imports from the region only amounted to $28bn in value.

Kazakhstan’s bilateral trade turnover with China stood at $41bn, marking a 32% y/y increase. Of that figure, Kazakh exports were worth $16.3bn.

China’s annual trade turnover with Uzbekistan moved up by as much as 45% in 2023 to $14bn. Uzbek exports were clocked at just $1.6bn, though. 

Kyrgyzstan-China trade turnover was up 28.8% y/y to $19.8bn. But Kyrgyzstan’s exports to China were recorded at just $80mn.

Tajikistan-China trade jumped 54% y/y, but the volume only hit $3.9bn, the lowest of any Central Asian state. Tajikistan’s exports stood at only $250mn.

Turkmenistan was the only Central Asian nation to record a contraction in its 2023 trade volume with China. Trade fell 5.2% y/y to $10.6bn. However, given Turkmenistan’s major gas exports to China, $9.6bn of the total was in Ashgabat’s favour. The number was 6.6% lower versus the 2022 amount. China’s $1bn worth of exports to Turkmenistan were up 11.3% y/y.

Notably, official statistics provided by Central Asian states often do not correspond with the official Chinese data.

For example, Uzbekistan’s Statistics Agency previously reported 2023 Uzbek-Chinese trade turnover at $13.7bn, with Uzbek exports given as $2.5bn and imports from China registered at $11.2bn.

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