Downturn for Kyrgyz Market Traders

Kyrgyzstan’s giant wholesale market at Karasuu is losing out as Chinese trade shifts to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Downturn for Kyrgyz Market Traders

Kyrgyzstan’s giant wholesale market at Karasuu is losing out as Chinese trade shifts to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Friday, 29 May, 2009
For the last decade, the sprawling market, located conveniently close to Kyrgyzstan’s border with Uzbekistan, was the meeting point where Chinese goods found their way into the hands of merchants from other Central Asian states – more than eight of ten of them from Uzbekistan.



The market is an important part of the Kyrgyz economy because of the tax revenues it generates and because it employs over 30,000 people, although one-third of these come from China.



One major reason for the recent downturn is that Uzbek border guards are harassing traders from their own country more than usual, in an apparent drive to deter them from visiting Kyrgyzstan to make purchases.



The Uzbek authorities have set up their own trading centre, which is attracting Chinese merchants and goods. This might seem to obviate the need for Karasuu, but traders from Uzbekistan say goods are more expensive when sold wholesale in their own country, and it is instead the tightened border controls that are making them more reluctant to come across.



Others traders at the market are more incline to blame the decline in turnover on the general economic crisis affecting the region and depressing demand for consumer goods.



Support our journalists