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Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

Population 6.7 million
GDP 1,283 US$
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Country risk assessment
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

  2020 2021 2022 (e) 2023 (f)
GDP growth (%) -8.6 3.7 7.0 3.5
Inflation (yearly average, %) 6.3 11.9 14.0 11.1
Budget balance (% GDP) -3.3 -0.4 -5.2 -5.8
Current account balance (% GDP) 4.8 -8.7 -12.5 -10.5
Public debt (% GDP) 67.6 61.1 58.4 59.2

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *Including grants

STRENGTHS

  • Abundant metal resources
  • Tourism and hydroelectric potential
  • Strategic position and transit corridor between China, Russia and Europe
  • Financial support from multilateral and bilateral donors, particularly from China
  • Membre de l’UEEA et de l’Initiative Ceinture et Route (ICR) de la Chine

WEAKNESSES

  • Small open economy highly dependent on economic fluctuations in Russia (via remittances) and in China and Kazakhstan
  • High dependence on gold and agriculture
  • Fragile, concentrated and dollarised banking system, while credit is expensive, directed and underdeveloped
  • Challenging geography and significant energy dependence
  • Deficient infrastructure
  • Weak governance and difficult business environment (corruption, organised crime, informality)
  • Political and social instability (3 presidents forced to resign by the streets since independence in 2005, 2010 and 2020) against a backdrop of poverty

Risk assessment

A return to "normality" for growth

After an exceptional year in 2022, growth will slow in 2023 and be driven by increased household consumption demand (on the one hand from the direct arrival of Russians in the territory, and on the other, by increased expatriate remittances. In 2023, final consumption (101.2% of GDP in 2021) will decrease, due to durably high inflation and lower transfers (27% of GDP in 2022), mostly from Russia (95% of transfers and 25 % of GDP in 2022). Gross fixed capital investment (23% of GDP) will contribute positively to growth. In 2023, the share of net foreign direct investment in GDP should remain low (0.5% of GDP in 2022 and 2.5% in 2021). Among the country's major investment projects are the Kambar-Ata-2 hydroelectric power plant, located on the Naryn River, which will generate electricity in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The construction of this plant was decided in January 2023. Net exports will as always contribute negatively to growth despite a recovery in gold exports (stopped in 2022).

Improvement in the current account balance, but a deterioration in the budget deficit

The current account is expected to improve in 2023, but will remain significantly negative. Its widening in 2022 was mainly explained by growth in the structural trade deficit with, on the one hand, the cessation of gold exports (34% of GDP in 2021) – gold production was resold to the Central Bank – and on the other, a sharp rise in imports which is linked in particular to the rise in world energy and food prices. In 2023, the recovery of gold exports and the possible slowdown in household import demand will improve the trade balance, which will, however, remain in deficit. The balance of services, structurally in deficit, will remain so in 2023, as will that of primary income (investment income), but the deficits will be much smaller than that of trade in goods. In 2023, the deteriorating economic situation of the Russian Federation will generate fewer transfers from this country (after strong growth in 2022), which will negatively affect the current account. Kyrgyzstan's budget deficit could widen due to a rise in spending following an increase in the salaries of public sector workers and pension increases. Public debt remains heavy despite the sharp reduction in its weight as a share of GDP in 2022, due to inflation and strong growth. Almost half is expressed in foreign currencies, of which almost 40% is held by China (42% in 2021).

 

Fragile internal and external political stability

Demonstrations in the wake of disputed parliamentary elections in October 2020 that protested against electoral fraud and massive vote-buying led to the resignation of the government and President Sooronbay Jeenbekov. A new president, Sadyr Japarov, was elected in January 2021 with a huge majority, and the following April a constitutional referendum transformed the parliamentary system into a presidential one. A new electoral system combining majority and proportional representation was adopted on 27 August. Parliamentary elections were held early on 28 November 2021 to renew all 90 seats in the Supreme Council. Parties openly supporting Mr Japarov were victorious, while unaffiliated representatives accounted for more than a third of the seats. In October 2022, protests broke out in the country following the resumption of negotiations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan regarding the delimitation of the Kempir-Abad water reservoir on the border between the two countries (14% of which is used to irrigate land in two regions of Kyrgyzstan). More than 20 people were arrested and imprisoned: twenty of them were still in prison in June 2023. In November, an agreement was concluded between the two countries in which Kyrgyzstan conceded the reservoir to its neighbour in exchange for 19 hectares of disputed land. Public dissatisfaction over the issue, as well as the outcome of the possible extension of criminal sanctions of the detainees could lead to further demonstrations and harm the country’s political stability.
The long-standing border conflict between the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan claimed casualties on both sides in September 2022, in violent clashes lasting four days. In a May 2023 report, Human Rights Watch said both countries committed war crimes. After the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan did not openly condemn the Russian Federation, one of its main trading partners. Trade between the two countries strengthened in 2022, with Kyrgyzstan's exports increasing by 150%. The European Union alerted the country for several months to the possibility of implementing sanctions on the grounds of circumventing sanctions applied against Russia, before finally retracting in June 2023.

 

Last updated: September 2023

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