Countries and regions
Central Asia is of geostrategic importance to the EU. The region represents a bridge to China as well as to Afghanistan and to the Middle East. The region is a source of significant energy imports for the EU.
Four of the five Central Asian countries benefit from favourable access to the EU's market, through the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (Kazakhstan, as an upper middle income level economy, can no longer benefit from this scheme since January 2014).
- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
EU trade with Central Asia has grown and the EU is now the main trading partner of the region, accounting for about a third of its overall external trade. Nevertheless, total turnover of the EU's trade with Central Asia remains low.
- Central Asian exports to the EU remain concentrated in a few commodities, especially crude oil, gas, metals and cotton fibre.
- EU exports are dominated by machinery and transport equipment, and other manufactured goods. Such products account for more than half of EU exports in the region.
EU-Central Asia: Trade in goods
|Year||EU imports||EU exports||Balance|
EU and Central Asia
WTO membership of all the Central Asian countries is a pre-condition for closer trading and investment relations with the EU.
- Kyrgyzstan has been a WTO member since 1998.
- Tajikistan became a WTO member on 2 March 2013.
- Kazakhstan's accession process is well advanced.
- There is limited progress in the accession of Uzbekistan
- Turkmenistan has not yet applied for WTO membership.
Based on the EU Central Asia Strategy the EU aims to enhance relations with the region as a whole and each of its particular countries. In the area of trade and investment the Strategy focuses inter alia on the accession of the entire Central Asian region to the World Trade Organisation. It also aims to help Central Asian countries take greater advantage of the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences.
The overall institutional framework for the EU's cooperation with the region is as follows:
- The EU's bilateral trade relations with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are governed by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA)
- In terms of trade, these are non-preferential agreements – ensuring most-favoured nation treatment and prohibiting quantitative restrictions in the bilateral trade.
- The Partnership and Cooperation Agreements envisage progressive regulatory approximation of the partner countries' legislation and practices to the most important EU trade-related standards including technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, intellectual property rights' protection and customs issues. This should lead to better access to the EU markets for goods originating in those countries.
- The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement concluded with Turkmenistan in 1998 has not yet been ratified by all the Member States of the EU.
- Pending ratification, an Interim Agreement on trade and trade related matters entered into force on 1 August 2010.
- The other areas of cooperation remain based on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed with the Soviet Union in 1989 and subsequently endorsed by Turkmenistan.
Trading with Central Asia
- The EU is present on the ground in Central Asia (EU Delegations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan)
- Trade relations are part of the EU's overall political and economic relations with Central Asia