Economy of Central Asia


Since independence in 1991, the composition of Kazakhstan’s population has changed. Many Russians have left the country, which has led to the Kazakhs now forming a majority. Oil and gas are important sources of income. In the country, there is both a reformed continuation of the old trade union structure and a newly formed trade union movement.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 2,724,900 km2

Capital: Astana

Language: Kazakh is the official language and is spoken by 75 percent of the population, Russian is used in the business world.

Labor market and economy:

Economic development in Kazakhstan has been rapid. In the Caspian Sea, there are large deposits of petroleum and gas that have given the country large incomes. However, the falling oil price in recent years has led to a certain slowdown in economic development. It has also led to increased unemployment. Another shift is that fewer and fewer people work in the manufacturing industry while more people work in different service industries. About a quarter of all employed are self-employed, an internationally high proportion. In rural areas, the proportion of self-employed is even higher, around 40 percent. Many of these self-employed people have little income and live in meager conditions.


The economic crisis in the poor mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan threatens both the environment and welfare. The trade union movement has been partially reformed by independence. Popular movements demand deepened democracy.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 195 951 km2

Capital: Bishkek

Language: More than 70 percent of the population speaks Kyrgyz, other languages ​​include Uzbek and Russian.

Labor market and economy:

Important economic products are cotton, tobacco, wheat, sugar cane, meat and wool. Several rivers have hydropower and the country exports electricity to other counties. In Kyrgyzstan there are also large deposits of gold, uranium and mercury.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in the region. In order for people to be able to raise their standard of living, more access to jobs with decent wages is required. Today, on the contrary, the employment rate is low and the jobs offered are often underpaid. There are also large regional differences within the country. Poverty is highest in the provinces of Naryn and Talas.


Tajikistan has been ravaged by a devastating civil war that has led to tens of thousands of dead and large refugee flows. Now there is peace in the country, but the infrastructure is damaged. According to COUNTRYAAH, Tajikistan is Central Asia’s poorest state. The trade union movement is weak and controlled by the state.

Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 143,000 km2

Capital: Dushanbe

Language: Tajik is the official language, in addition many speak Russian

Labor market and economy:

Between 80 and 90 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Population growth is the highest in the former Soviet Union. High mountains occupy 90 percent of the land area, some over 7,000 meters. Agriculture is the most important industry, but only seven percent of the land area is cultivated. In the southern province of Kurghan Thube, there are the cotton plantations which, together with the aluminum mines, account for the majority of exports. The country also has large resources of silver, gold, uranium and tungsten.


The government of Turkmenistan does not allow any political opposition and maintains a tight control over the press. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is both head of state and government. He has been in power since 2007. There is a state-controlled trade union movement in the country.

Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 488 100 km2

Capital: Ashgabat

Language: Turkmen is the largest language, parts of the population speak Russian and Uzbek

Labor market and economy:

Turkmenistan is rich in gas and oil. Over the past decade, the country’s government has sought to persuade Western energy companies to build a pipeline to transport gas to Europe. However, no company has yet seized on the proposal, which has deepened the economic crisis in the country and led to a growing external debt.

Another idea has been to build a pipeline to Pakistan through Afghanistan, but the continued unrest in Afghanistan has made it impossible to carry out the project.


The Uzbek regime is reprimanding the opposition. There is only one state-controlled trade union movement in the country. Opposition groups are regularly subjected to repression.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 447 400 km2

Capital: Tashkent

Language: Uzbek

Labor market and economy:

Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest producers of cotton. However, the equipment previously used to machine cotton has fallen into disrepair. Today, the work is done manually and many children participate in the work. During the harvest season, many schools close for students to pick cotton.


In China, the world’s most populous country, the economic transformation has been rapid, among other things, the number of foreign companies in the country has increased avalanche. A positive side of the change is high economic growth and reduced poverty. However, there are no corresponding changes at the political level. The trade union movement is still controlled by the state.


Country Facts

State condition: People’s Republic, in reality dictatorship

Surface: 9,596,960 km2

Capital: Beijing (or Beijing)

Language: most speak different dialects of Mandarin, in addition there are about 50 minority languages

Labor market and economy:

The market-oriented policy, which bears the mark of former leader Deng Xiaoping, has also been clearly export-oriented. Today, China is one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign investment. However, the importance of foreign companies for employment should not be exaggerated. Of China’s total workforce of just over 650 million people, only just under ten million are employed in foreign companies. Although China’s economic policy vis – à – vis the outside world has become more open – especially with WTO membership (World Trade Organization) – many obstacles remain. Succeeding in Chinese business often requires good personal contacts with leading politicians and people within the state.

Growth in China has been faster than in, for example, India, which has also deregulated the economy and liberalized trade. One explanation for the greater Chinese success may be the difference in starting position, including in terms of level of education. In India, half of the adults are illiterate, while illiteracy in China is largely eradicated. Another difference between the countries is the position of women, where working life in China has been more open to women. In the spring of 2014, however, the media reported a certain decline in economic growth, although it is still high in China compared to most other countries.

In China, there are still between 100 and 170 million poor people, depending on the poverty line. Almost all of China’s absolutely poor are in the countryside. Growth has been faster there, but on the other hand poverty was already higher in the initial situation. In 1978, rural income was about a quarter of that of cities. Today, rural income accounts for a third of urban income. In China, economic growth has been so rapid that absolute poverty has been able to decrease while the economic gaps within the country have widened at a rapid pace. Before market reforms, China was one of the world’s most equal countries, now inequality is greater than in India and on a par with Latin America.

For employees, working conditions differ drastically between state-owned companies and private ones. Government employment includes subsidized healthcare and medicine, pensions and often also assisted living. Upon privatization, all these benefits disappear and the terms of employment are relaxed. Particularly in the northeastern parts of the country, where the base for traditional heavy industry is located, there have been dramatic cuts in state-owned enterprises. In several cases, the mass dismissals have led to widespread protests and in some cases even militant revolts.

In 2015, the ruling Communist Party decided that the so-called one-child policy should end. It will be possible for all couples to have two children, even for families in cities where the previous policy was applied particularly strictly.