When traders from Uzbekistan came to Tajikistan to show off their wares, it caused a minor sensation. The fair, held in Dushanbe, was the first of its kind since both countries’ independence in 1991.
The goods on display at the Poytakht-90 trading house ranged from the small — everyday products such as candy, fabrics, medicine and footwear — to big-ticket items such as buses, cars, air conditioners and refrigerators. Attendees at the four-day fair, held in April 2017, were taken aback.
“Uzbekistan stunned us,” economist Sharif Muhammad told EurasiaNet.org. “Over there, they produce everything from buses to household goods. The quality of their textile production is also excellent.”
The fair served as a showcase for 160 Uzbek companies. Though the fourth day of the fair was marked by a “frenzy of sales,” vendors considered this only a side benefit of a larger goal: establishing long-term business relationships.
After the fair, entrepreneurs from both countries gathered for an inaugural Tajik-Uzbek business forum, where they reportedly sealed 20 commercial supply deals worth a total of $35 million for items including electronics, chemicals, food, building materials and automobiles.
Batyr Umarov, the regional manager for Tashkent-based Artel, said the fair revealed the potential of the Tajik market.
“For the past two years we have been studying this market, and last year we began exporting our goods to Tajikistan,” Umarov said. “Thanks to this fair, we understand there is demand for our goods. We want everybody in Tajikistan to know our brand.”
Tajik civil society activist Oynihol Bobonazarova believes it would prove advantageous for Tajikistan to import from Uzbekistan, rather than China and Turkey, as it currently does.
“We do not have our own manufacturing sector, and our neighbor has quality goods,” Bobonazarova said. “It could even end up bringing our people closer.” Source: EurasiaNet.org