Ekonomske analize
Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

Population 5.3 million
GDP 6,654 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2014 2015  2016 (e) 2017 (f)
GDP growth (%) 10.3 6.5 6.2 5.0
Inflation (yearly average) (%) 6.0 6.4 7.0 8.0
Budget balance (% GDP) 4.9 0.8 0.0 0.2
Current account balance (% GDP) -7.5 -10.3 -18.5 -18.0
Public debt (% GDP) 17.4 23.2 23.2 23.4

 

(e) Estimate (f) Forecast

STRENGTHS

  • Fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world
  • Sunstantial foreign exchange reserves
  • Low debt levels

WEAKNESSES

  • Small, isolated economy
  • Economy highly dependent on the hydrocarbon sector (chiefly gas) and on China, which accounts for almost all its export market
  • State interventionism and governance shortcomings

RISK ASSESSMENT

In 2017 growth is exepcted to be sharply lower than the double-digit growth posted until 2014

In 2017, Turkmenistan is expected to continue to be affected by the effects of low hydrocarbon prices and the economic slowdown in China (its main export market). Public investment is likely to be revised downwards. Some projects in the hydrocarbon sector, especially those linked with transporting gas (TAPI pipeline - Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) are expected to remain a priority, sustaining activity, especially in the construction sector. In contrast, cuts in investment spending are likely to affect the non-hydrocarbon sectors, slowing the diversification of the economy. The downturn in household consumption should be avoided, thanks to a fiscal policy in support of domestic demand.
Prices are expected to continue on an upward trend in 2017 because of higher energy prices. Inflation will be higher if there is another devaluation of the Turkmen manat, as this would push up the price of imported goods, espcially food products.

 

The fiscal balance is expected to be just about in equilibrium in 2017 and the current account balance will stabilise

The decline in fiscal revenues, chiefly generated by the hydrocarbon (80% of consolidated budget income) has led to a reduction in government spending, especially on investment. The 10% increase in wages, pensions and study bursaries, announced in July 2016 for implementation in 2017, will be offset by a cut in subsidies on fuel and electricity. Controlling expenditure remains an objective of the government, who is not, however, able to make drastic cuts in current spending because of the potential impact this would have on social stability. A slight recovery in hydrocarbon prices on the world market is expected to help prevent the public financies from deteriorating too strongly in 2017, without however enabling a significant surplus to be achieved. The assets in the Stabilisation Fund, the amount of which has not, however, been communicated by the authorities, should give the country some leeway, at least in the short term, especially as the public debt is still low.
Export income stems chiefly from hydrocarbon sales (95%of the total), so the combined fall in prices and drop in world demand has a strong impact on the current account balance. After Russia's decision, in early 2016, to suspend its imports of gas from Turkmenistan, China is now the country's key client and accounts for almost three quarters of its gas exports. The Chinese slowdown is, therefore, expected to continue to weigh on exports from Turkmenistan in 2017. A less acute need for imports, given the postponement of some investment projects and less robust consumption, should help prevent further deterioration in the current account balance. Net FDI flows are expected to continue in the energy sector, notable from Asian countries, although they are likely to remain weak in the non-hydrocarbon sector.
Following the devaluation of the manat in January 2015 (-19% against the dollar, to which the Turkmen currency is pegged), downward pressure on the exchange rate persists. Further devaluation cannot be ruled out, especially if oil and gas prices continue to decline.

 

Unstable border security situation and persistent governance shortcomings

The security situation on the border with Afghanistan is very precarious due to the presence of extremist Islamist groups. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has won a third term on February 12th 2017with 98% of the votes cast. The multi-party system introduced in January 2012 did not weaken his party's (Democratic Party) grip on power in the parliamentary elections in late 2013. In September 2016, Mr Berdymukhamedov succeeded in passing a constitutional amendment allowing him to remain as head of state without an age limit (previously fixed at 70 years) and to extend the presidential term from 5 to 7 years.
Cuts in subsidies and the level of inflation could exacerbate popular discontent, but a very tight security policy limits the risk of mass protests.
Turkmenistan is one of the worst ranked countries in the CIS according to the World Bank's governance indicators. The country is in 192nd place (out of 204) on the Corruption Perceptions Index and 197th regarding the rule of law. The business climate remains very difficult for foreign businesses.

 

Last update: March 2017

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