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Tajikistan will try to balance Russia and China

Friday, February 6, 2015

Subject

Tajikistan's options for joining Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

Significance

Russia hopes that the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which came into force on January 1, will include Tajikistan. The EEU currently comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia, with Kyrgyzstan set to join in May. Moscow is eager to pursue expansion of the EEU as its relations with the West deteriorate as a result of the Ukraine crisis. Russia is also believed to be seeking to put a check on China, whose 'silk road economic belt' will see billions of dollars invested in Central Asia. However, the economic benefits of EEU membership for Tajikistan are debatable and could put at risk its increasingly important relationship with China.

Impacts

  • EEU membership risks continuing a trend of significant numbers of Tajikistanis being dependent on working in Russia.
  • EEU success will depend on the extent to which Russia is able to act as a destination for merchandise exports.
  • As Russia's economy slows, the prospect of hundreds of thousands of Tajikistani workers returning home will rise, as will instability risk.
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