The industrial sector in Turkmenistan is dominated by oil and natural gas extraction. The country’s extensive cotton production has been followed by a growing textile industry and production of cotton seed oil, among other things.
Turkmenistan’s own oil refining capacity is insufficient, but it is being expanded and is expected to be complete by 2030. The chemical industry is concentrated in the area around the city of Mary in the southeast. There is also a food industry but much food has to be imported. The engineering industry is small.
The craft industry is significant, and the Turkmen rugs are world famous for their beautiful designs and their high quality. The art of tying rugs is perennial in Turkmenistan, where some traditional fabrics can have up to 240,000 knots per square meter.
During the Soviet era (c. 1920–1991), the industry was wholly state-owned. Since independence in 1991, a gradual sale of state-owned industries and companies has been going on. At the end of the 2010s, most of the Turkmen business sector was still owned by the state. In particular, sales of large state industries have been slow.
The Lapis Lazuli corridors are inaugurated
13th of December
The Lapis Lazuli corridor, which is a trade route connecting Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey with the Balkans and other Europe, is inaugurated (see November 2017).
Agreement on the Caspian Sea
12th of August
The five countries that coast towards the Caspian Sea – Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan – sign an agreement regulating its legal status. The agreement is signed by the country’s leaders in the port city of Aktau, Kazakhstan. The status of the Caspian Sea has been unclear since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict has affected whether it is a lake or an inland sea. An inland sea would be subject to UN maritime law, while the right to a lake must be negotiated between the countries. The ambiguity has led to strained relations between the states as well as ambiguities about who has the right to extract the rich oil and natural gas resources. The agreement provides that the Caspian Sea is neither a lake nor a sea, but has “special legal status”. This means that the surface water should be used jointly by the five states, while the seabed and its assets are to be divided, How these boundaries are to be drawn says nothing about the agreement. The big fishing that produces caviar is regulated by means of quotas. The agreement also states that no other country may establish military bases on the Caspian Sea alongside the five states.
Elections are held between three faithful parties
Three regime-loyal parties are allowed to stand in the parliamentary elections: the TDP presidential party with support groups receives 103 of the 125 seats. The Party for Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (TSTP) and the new Turkmenistan Farmers’ Party (TAP) each receive 11 seats. The distribution of seats is of no practical importance, as decisions are made by the president and his government. The turnout is 92 percent. Most notable is the fact that President Serdar Berdimuhamedow is re-elected to his seat with over 91 percent of the vote. Six days later he was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister by his father.
Dispute with Iran over gas supplies
30th of January
Iran draws Turkmenistan before the International Arbitration Court in Paris for one year Turkmenistan failed to deliver gas to Iran due to unpaid debts. They are expected to fall in 2020.