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Afghanistan vs. Turkmenistan

Economy

AfghanistanTurkmenistan
Economy - overview

Prior to 2001, Afghanistan was an extremely poor, landlocked, and foreign aid-dependent country. Increased domestic economic activity occurred following the US-led invasion, as well as significant international economic development assistance. This increased activity expanded access to water, electricity, sanitation, education, and health services, and fostered consistent growth in government revenues since 2014. While international security forces have been drawing down since 2012, with much higher U.S. forces’ drawdowns occurring since 2017, economic progress continues, albeit uneven across sectors and key economic indicators. After recovering from the 2018 drought and growing 3.9% in 2019, political instability, expiring international financial commitments, and the COVID-19 pandemic have wrought significant adversity on the Afghan economy, with a projected 5% contraction.

Current political parties’ power-sharing agreement following the September 2019 presidential elections as well as ongoing Taliban attacks and peace talks have led to Afghan economic instability. This instability, coupled with expiring international grant and assistance, endangers recent fiscal gains and has led to more internally displaced persons. In November 2020, Afghanistan secured $12 billion in additional international aid for 2021-2025, much of which is conditional upon Taliban peace progress. Additionally, Afghanistan continues to experience influxes of repatriating Afghanis, mostly from Iran, significantly straining economic and security institutions.

Afghanistan’s trade deficit remains at approximately 31% of GDP and is highly dependent on financing through grants and aid. While Afghan agricultural growth remains consistent, recent industrial and services growth have been enormously impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and trade cessations. While trade with the People’s Republic of China has rapidly expanded in recent years, Afghanistan still relies heavily upon India and Pakistan as export partners but is more diverse in its import partners. Furthermore, Afghanistan still struggles to effectively enforce business contracts, facilitate easy tax collection, and enable greater international trade for domestic enterprises.

Current Afghan priorities focus on the following goals:

  • Securing international economic agreements, many of which are contingent on Taliban peace progress;
  • Increasing exports to $2 billion USD by 2023;
  • Continuing to expand government revenue collection;
  • Countering corruption and navigating challenges from the power-sharing agreement; and
  • Developing a strong private sector that can empower the economy.

Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and oil resources. The two largest crops are cotton, most of which is produced for export, and wheat, which is domestically consumed. Although agriculture accounts for almost 8% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country's workforce. Hydrocarbon exports, the bulk of which is natural gas going to China, make up 25% of Turkmenistan’s GDP. Ashgabat has explored two initiatives to bring gas to new markets: a trans-Caspian pipeline that would carry gas to Europe and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Both face major financing, political, and security hurdles and are unlikely to be completed soon.

Turkmenistan’s autocratic governments under presidents NIYAZOW (1991-2006) and BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 2007) have made little progress improving the business climate, privatizing state-owned industries, combatting corruption, and limiting economic development outside the energy sector. High energy prices in the mid-2000s allowed the government to undertake extensive development and social spending, including providing heavy utility subsidies.

Low energy prices since mid-2014 are hampering Turkmenistan’s economic growth and reducing government revenues. The government has cut subsidies in several areas, and wage arrears have increased. In January 2014, the Central Bank of Turkmenistan devalued the manat by 19%, and downward pressure on the currency continues. There is a widening spread between the official exchange rate (3.5 TMM per US dollar) and the black market exchange rate (approximately 14 TMM per US dollar). Currency depreciation and conversion restrictions, corruption, isolationist policies, and declining spending on public services have resulted in a stagnate economy that is nearing crisis. Turkmenistan claims substantial foreign currency reserves, but non-transparent data limit international institutions’ ability to verify this information.

GDP (purchasing power parity)$78.557 billion (2019 est.)

$75.6 billion (2018 est.)

$74.711 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
$86.858 billion (2018 est.)

$103.7 billion (2017 est.)

$81.787 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP - real growth rate2.7% (2017 est.)

2.2% (2016 est.)

1% (2015 est.)
6.5% (2017 est.)

6.2% (2016 est.)

6.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,065 (2019 est.)

$2,034 (2018 est.)

$2,058 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
$14,845 (2018 est.)

$18,200 (2017 est.)

$14,205 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 23% (2016 est.)

industry: 21.1% (2016 est.)

services: 55.9% (2016 est.)

note: data exclude opium production
agriculture: 7.5% (2017 est.)

industry: 44.9% (2017 est.)

services: 47.7% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line54.5% (2016 est.)0.2% (2012 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 3.8%

highest 10%: 24% (2008)
lowest 10%: 2.6%

highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)5% (2017 est.)

4.4% (2016 est.)
8% (2017 est.)

3.6% (2016 est.)
Labor force8.478 million (2017 est.)2.305 million (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 44.3%

industry: 18.1%

services: 37.6% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 48.2%

industry: 14%

services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate23.9% (2017 est.)

22.6% (2016 est.)
11% (2014 est.)

10.6% (2013)
Distribution of family income - Gini index29.4 (2008)40.8 (1998)
Budgetrevenues: 2.276 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 5.328 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 5.657 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 6.714 billion (2017 est.)
Industriessmall-scale production of bricks, textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, apparel, food products, non-alcoholic beverages, mineral water, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, coppernatural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
Industrial production growth rate-1.9% (2016 est.)1% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - productswheat, milk, grapes, vegetables, potatoes, watermelons, melons, rice, onions, applesmilk, wheat, cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelons, grapes, sugar beet, beef, rice
Exports$784 million (2017 est.)

$614.2 million (2016 est.)

note: not including illicit exports or reexports
$7.458 billion (2017 est.)

$6.987 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditiesgold, grapes, opium, fruits and nuts, insect resins, cotton, handwoven carpets, soapstone, scrap metal (2019)natural gas, refined petroleum, crude petroleum, cotton fibers, fertilizers (2019)
Exports - partnersUnited Arab Emirates 45%, Pakistan 24%, India 22%, China 1% (2019)China 82% (2019)
Imports$7.616 billion (2017 est.)

$6.16 billion (2016 est.)
$4.571 billion (2017 est.)

$5.215 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditieswheat flours, broadcasting equipment, refined petroleum, rolled tobacco, aircraft parts, synthetic fabrics (2019)iron products, harvesting machinery, packaged medicines, broadcasting equipment, tractors (2019)
Imports - partnersUnited Arab Emirates 23%, Pakistan 17%, India 13%, China 9%, United States 9%, Uzbekistan 7%, Kazakhstan 6% (2019)Turkey 25%, Russia 18%, China 14%, Germany 6% (2019)
Debt - external$284 million (FY10/11)$539.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$425.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange ratesafghanis (AFA) per US dollar -

7.87 (2017 est.)

68.03 (2016 est.)

67.87 (2015)

61.14 (2014 est.)

57.25 (2013 est.)
Turkmenistani manat (TMM) per US dollar -

4.125 (2017 est.)

3.5 (2016 est.)

3.5 (2015 est.)

3.5 (2014 est.)

2.85 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year21 December - 20 Decembercalendar year
Public debt7% of GDP (2017 est.)

7.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
28.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

24.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$7.187 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$6.901 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$24.91 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$25.05 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance$1.014 billion (2017 est.)

$1.409 billion (2016 est.)
-$4.359 billion (2017 est.)

-$7.207 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$20.24 billion (2017 est.)$40.819 billion (2018 est.)
Taxes and other revenues11.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)14.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-15.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)-2.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 81.6% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 12% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 17.2% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 30% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 6.7% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -47.6% (2016 est.)
household consumption: 50% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 10% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 28.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 26.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -14.3% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving22.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

25.8% of GDP (2016 est.)

21.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
23.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

24.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

18.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook