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Central Asia

Central Asia

Central Asia is of geostrategic importance to the EU. The region represents a bridge to China,  Afghanistan and the Middle East. It is a source of significant energy imports for the EU.

Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) share some common features: they are landlocked, their exports focus on raw materials, and they all face significant influence from neighbouring powers, namely Russia or China. Yet they significantly differ from one another in terms of wealth and trade volumes with the EU. Despite some economic growth in recent years, Central Asian countries remain characterised by a low level of economic diversification and a high dependence on a relatively small number of trade partners.

Three of the five Central Asian countries (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) benefit from favourable access to the EU market, through the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) or GSP+. While Tajikistan meets the standard GSP criteria, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have also joined the EU’s GSP+ arrangement, which grants additional preferences. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, as upper middle income-level economies, can no longer benefit from this scheme.

Two Central Asian countries are also members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU): Kazakhstan since 2010 and Kyrgyzstan since 2015. Uzbekistan became an EAEU observer in 2020.

Trade picture

Central Asia:

  • Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

EU trade with Central Asia has grown and the EU is now the region’s main trade partner, accounting for about a third of its overall external trade. Nevertheless, the total turnover of the EU's trade with Central Asia remains low.

  • Central Asian exports to the EU largely focus on a few commodities, particularly 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 to the region.

EU-Central Asia: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2018-2020, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2018 20.7 8.6 -12.0
2019 19.1 9.5 -9.7
2020 13.2 9.1 -4.1

Unless otherwise mentioned “EU” concerns for all indicated years the current European Union of 27 Member States.

Date of retrieval: 12/04/2021

More statistics on Central Asia

EU and Central Asia

The EU adopted a New Central Asia Strategy in 2019, which focuses on the following three pillars: increased resilience, regional cooperation and prosperity.

The overall institutional framework for the EU's cooperation with the region is as follows:

Committees and Dialogues - Uzbekistan

The EU and Uzbekistan meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices when applying the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Subcommittee on Economic, Trade and Investment Relations

Committees and Dialogues - Kyrgyz Republic

The EU and the Kyrgyz Republic meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices when applying the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Sub-Committee on Trade and Investment

Committees and Dialogues - Kazakhstan

The EU and Kazakhstan meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices when applying the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Trading with Central Asia