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Changes in the geographical structure of trade in Central Asia: Real flows in the 1989-2016 period versus gravity model predictions

Gharleghi, Behrooz and Popov, Vladimir (2018): Changes in the geographical structure of trade in Central Asia: Real flows in the 1989-2016 period versus gravity model predictions. Published in: Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute

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Abstract

In the 1980s, six former southern republics of the USSR (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), like other former Soviet republics, traded very intensively both between themselves and with the other Soviet republics, but had a meagre volume of trade with the rest of the world. After the transition to the market, the deregulation of foreign trade, and the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s, trade between the former Soviet republics shrank dramatically and was only partially replaced by trade with other countries, mostly from Western Europe. In the 2000s and 2010s, the relative importance of trade with Western Europe has declined and the share of trade with China and other Asian countries has grown. This paper compares changes in the geographical structure of trade of both former Soviet republics (Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan) and Turkey, with the predictions of the gravity model. The gravity model suggests that trade between two countries is proportionate to their respective GDPs and is inversely related to the geographical distance between them.2 Turkey serves as a yardstick for comparison. For Turkey, changes in its geographical trade structure resulted from a rise in the proportion of trade with Asian countries and a decline in the proportion of trade with other regions in the world economy. In contrast, for the former Soviet republics there was an additional reason for changes in their geographical trade structure: the collapse of trade within the former USSR.

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