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The Economic Prospects of the CIS

Sources of Long Term Growth

Edited by Gur Ofer and Richard Pomfret

This book brings together ten original studies on the transition and growth experience and the foundations for long-term growth of the newly independent states created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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Chapter 7: Turkmenistan: economic autocracy and recent growth performance

Alexandre Repkine


Alexandre Repkine Turkmenistan is a largely desert, landlocked country in the Central Asian region that possesses the fourth-largest gas reserves in the world.1 Its oil deposits are also significant. Water is an extremely scarce natural resource in this country. Since both gas and oil are potentially highly marketable commodities in world markets and water is essential for life support, the success of the economy is determined by the efficiency with which Turkmenistan, being landlocked, resolves the issue of access to carbohydrates for world markets while managing its scarce water resources efficiently. The discussion in this chapter centres around these two issues, although the political aspect of the country’s economy is essential as well. Before proceeding to the discussion of those issues in detail, we provide a brief overview of the Turkmenistan economy. The Turkmen population was estimated at 5.5 million by the end of 2001. The GDP of Turkmenistan was valued at US$4.4 billion in 2000 if measured at the official exchange rate.2 In per capita terms that corresponds to about US$800 at the official exchange rate, which is relatively high for the Central Asian region. Wages are low, averaging about US$40 per month in real terms. The Turkmen economy is tightly controlled by the government. Thus, full employment is an officially stated objective, nominal wages and prices are rigid due to the numerous regulations, and private property rights are largely not established, with the private sector accounting for between 20...

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