The Post-Soviet Uzbek Economy: Is there a Specific Model of Development?

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 all the Central Asian countries have experienced traumatic political and economic transitions. Geographically surrounded by great powers such as China, India and Russia, all Central Asian countries are landlocked with Uzbekistan being one of only two double landlocked countries in the world. Among the five Central Asian nations Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan have enjoyed an abundance of natural resources whilst Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have mostly relied upon foreign assistance and labor migration. Amongst them, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are the key countries in Central Asia. Uzbekistan is the most populous one in the region and is classified by the World Bank as a lower-middle income country. Kazakhstan has the largest territory and gross national income in the region. As can be seen in the table below Kazakhstan’s national income in terms of purchasing power parity is larger than all the other remaining Central Asian countries combined. What makes all the Central Asian countries similar is their common historical and cultural background. The Soviet South including the five Central Asian nations also share the reality of having been the poorest and least industrialized parts of the Soviet Union.  According to a scholar in the 1980’s; “The economy of Central Asia has in large measure remained colonial to this day. It has by far the least manufacturing per capita, with the relative level actually declining in every republic because of the burgeoning population growth rates.” 

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