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Central Asia: Could Kazakh-Chinese joint venture export drones to Russia?


Kazakhstan and China are launching a joint venture to produce a variety of drone aircraft. Representatives of Kazakhstan’s Petropavlovsk Heavy Machine Building Plant have unveiled prototypes of four different drone models, the official Russian news agency TASS reports.

Parts for the aircraft are currently jointly produced, but the Petropavlovsk plant intends to take over full production and assembly after relevant employees complete training in China. “We are the only ones in Central Asian territory who can produce unmanned aerial vehicles of this format,” said Timur Nukerey, the deputy general director of Petropavlovsk plant. According to the TASS report, the joint venture plans to manufacture 27 different types of drones. According to a local media outlet, the recently unveiled prototypes are multipurpose vehicles that can have both civilian and state security applications, from crop-dusting and firefighting to border patrolling and aerial reconnaissance. Some models can fly at an altitude of 7,000 meters at a speed of 60 kph with a range of 20 kilometers. The plant’s director, Arman Kulmagambetov, said the display of the prototypes was intended to elicit feedback from potential buyers that could be incorporated into final designs. The reports did not indicate whether the drones produced in Kazakhstan will be for domestic use or exported. Foreign observers are questioning whether any of the drones could end being shipped to Russia, and potentially employed on the battlefields of Ukraine. 

A top food-industry executive in Kazakhstan believes the Central Asian country has the potential to increase wheat exports to China by more than three times in the coming years. Samat Tenbaev, deputy chair of NC Food Corporation JSC, told the KazTAG news agency that Kazakhstan has the capacity to export at least 1 million tons of wheat per year to China. He put the upper range of export volume at 3.5 million tons. Observers are skeptical that Tenbayev’s targets can be achieved anytime soon. Official statistics show that in the 10 months of the 2022-2023 marketing year, Kazakhstan exported just over 270,000 tons of wheat to China. The two countries have additionally haggled over bureaucratic restrictions that have hindered the expansion of agricultural exports in recent years. China’s deepening domestic economic troubles, including widespread unemployment, mounting local government debt and deflation concerns, are also likely to dampen the country’s appetite for Kazakhstan’s exports.


Official Uzbek economic statistics covering the first seven months of 2023 rank Russia and China as the top two foreign investors in the country, in terms of business creation. The data compiled by the Uzbek State Statistics Agency shows Russian capital responsible for creating 2,872 enterprises in the country, while Chinese capital is behind the operations of 1,873 entities.  Although Chinese capital seems drawn to Uzbekistan, Chinese tourists aren’t showing much enthusiasm to visit the Central Asian nation. A relatively modest 17,500 Chinese visitors traveled to Uzbekistan during the first seven months of 2023, ninth among foreign nations in the tourism standings. As can be expected, tourists from Russia and Uzbekistan’s four Central Asian neighbors dominated the top 10. China also trailed Turkey, South Korea and India in tourist numbers. Germany accounted for the 10th highest number of tourists.

Statistics published by the Uzbek State Statistics agency shows that China is dominating the electric car market in the country. China accounted for 99 percent of the 7,383 electric vehicles that Uzbekistan imported during the first seven months of 2023. The Tazarbek news website, citing China’s Customs Administration, published data showing that the import of all types of Chinese autos reached 43,900 during the seven-month period, a more than four-fold increase in sales numbers over the same period the previous year. The value of the imported autos amounted to over $859 million.


Kyrgyzstan is set to boost agricultural exports to China. On the sidelines of a trade fair held in China earlier in August, dubbed China – Eurasia Products and Trade-2023, Kyrgyz representatives signed deals to export commodities including honey, fish products and meat. “These significant agreements and contracts confirm the desire of the Kyrgyz Republic to expand export potential and strengthen its position in the world market,” Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Economics and Trade said in a statement.


China is the top international donor for humanitarian aid to Tajikistan so far in 2023. According to Tajikistan’s statistics department, 51 states overall contributed humanitarian assistance to Tajikistan, Central Asia’s poorest nation, during the first seven months of 2023, the Asia-Plus news agency reports. The value of the aid amounted to $43.5 million, which marks almost a 50 percent decline in the assistance level for the same period in 2022. China accounted for 29 percent of the humanitarian aid delivered so far in 2023, a few percentage points ahead of the United States. Belgium and Russia were other major donors.

Source : Eurasianet