The entrepreneurs predict that deficit and price increase of Chinese goods are inevitable.
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In Tajikistan, at the end of January, a permanent headquarters for countering the spread of coronavirus infection COVID-19 was created. Deputy Prime Minister Azim Ibrohim leads the headquarters.
The Deputy Prime Minister instructed to strengthen sanitation, quarantine and migration control at all border checkpoints. At every checkpoint, round-the-clock medical and quarantine stations have been created to examine all citizens arriving from China for coronavirus symptoms.
The authorities assured that in the case of symptoms detection, those infected will be isolated for 14 days in the infectious ward, where they will be taken on a special vehicle. All relevant medical facilities of the country were also instructed to prepare isolation wards.
Meanwhile, according to the Agency on Statistics under the President of Tajikistan, in January 2020, the trade turnover between Tajikistan and China increased by 88.5% compared to the same period last year.
In January of this year, the trade value between Tajikistan and China amounted to about $82 million. Imports from China amount to about $76 million, or 92%. In January, Tajikistan sent to China goods for only $5.8 million. Thus, imports from China to Tajikistan exceed exports more than 13 times.
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, the air connection between Tajikistan and China was suspended on January 23. The next day, the only checkpoint “Kulma” on the Tajik-Chinese border was closed with the same purpose.
The Committee for Food Security under the Government of Tajikistan stated that after the coronavirus outbreak, the import of all types of food products from China was banned.
The management of the Agency of Standardization, Metrology, Certification and Trade Inspection under the Government of Republic of Tajikistan at a recent press conference reported that last year China supplied to Tajikistan only tea (from all possible food products).
However, according to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan, Chinese goods continue to be imported to Tajikistan through other countries.
Deputy Head of the Ministry Tojiddin Jurazoda, at a press conference in Dushanbe on January 30, stated that the authorities are taking measures “to avoid the negative impact of the situation in the neighboring country”.
Entrepreneurs Are Anxious
Meanwhile, Tajik entrepreneurs who supply and sell Chinese goods are worried about the closure of the border between the two countries.
Shuhrat Saidov, who sells Chinese goods on the capital’s Korvon market, says he has very few goods left, while the border with a neighboring country remains to be closed.
“Most likely, we will not receive a new shipment of goods from China soon, as transportation between our countries is suspended. Our stock of goods can last only till the end of this month,” he said.
The seller does not exclude a possibility of gradual price increase for goods, noting that, according to the laws of the market, the smaller the quantity of goods, the higher the price.
Rajab Odilov, a supplier of goods from China, said he had no plans to travel to a neighboring country until the situation improved.
“Even if I go to China, I will be quarantined, at best for two weeks, even if I do not have the coronavirus. I will have to feed my family somehow anyways,” he added.
Chinese Citizens Work on Dozens of Projects in Tajikistan
Meanwhile, Chinese specialists are involved in dozens of projects in various sectors in Tajikistan: industry, transport, agriculture, energy.
At the end of January, the first Deputy Minister of Transport of Tajikistan, Suhrob Mirzozoda, at a press conference stated that all Chinese citizens working on road construction in the Republic of Tajikistan would have to undergo a medical examination. According to him, the number of these Chinese citizens is 266 people.
However, Mirzozoda noted, some of them traveled to China to celebrate Chinese New Year.
“Anyways, they will have to undergo a medical examination after arriving to Tajikistan,” the Deputy Minister said.
The Minister of Industry and New Technologies of Tajikistan Zarobiddin Faizullozoda at a recent press conference in Dushanbe said that 2,176 Chinese citizens work in the Tajik industry.
The minister noted that 1,559 of them went to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year (this year, it was celebrated on January 25th, the period from January 24 to January 30 was officially recognized as holiday).
“Some of them have already returned, and they stay in quarantine wards. Those who will return will also be quarantined,” the Minister said.
According to the Ministry of Industry, about 50 companies currently work in Tajikistan’s industry with Chinese capital involvement.
The largest of them are “Zarafshon”, “Zarinisor”, “Dushanbe Mining”, and “TALCO Gold”.
Meanwhile, on February 20, the Headquarters for countering the spread of coronavirus infection informed Asia Plus media agency that Tajik companies, which signed contracts with Chinese specialists for the construction of industrial facilities, are suffering losses. The source also said that there is a lag in the schedule of the implementation of projects involving Chinese specialists.
On February 27, the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan informed CABAR.asia that there were no cases of coronavirus infection in Tajikistan. According to the source, there are currently 190 people who arrived from China in quarantine zones.
Most of them have already been dismissed. These are citizens of Tajikistan and representatives of Chinese companies operating in the republic.
At the same time, the Ministry of Health noted that all these people will still be under the medical control at the places of their residence.
“In case of virus detection, we will certainly inform the media about this fact,” the source said.
“This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project”.