New rules have reportedly been put in place limiting the amount of goods residents of Tajikistan are allowed to carry across the border from Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan-based news website Podrobno.uz reported on July 5 that Tajiks crossing the border have been capped to two kilograms of meat, five kilograms of baked goods, seven kilograms of rice and that the total weight of the things they carry should be no more than 40 kilograms.
Talk of restrictions will severely dampen the exuberance felt several months ago, when numerous crossings were reopened after lying unused for almost a decade. With the way for cross-border traffic eased, some in Uzbekistan seized on the opportunity to pour goods into Tajikistan, but there was pushback almost immediately. Tajikistan has banned the import of Uzbek eggs, apparently as the low prices for them severely dented the profits of local poultry farmers.
A Tajik businessman who crossed the border in recent days said he was given an explicit warning not to try and break the rules.
“They strictly warned me not to come back with even one large egg, otherwise all our goods would be sent back. Also, they told us that the entire cargo could weigh no more than 40 kilograms, and that every single separate type of item could weigh no more than 10 kilograms,” the unnamed businessman, who crossed at a location near the Tajik town of Tursunzoda, told Akhbor.com.
Meanwhile, a resident of Panjakent told Akhbor, a website that focuses mainly on Tajik news, that before the new round of restrictions were put in place, large amounts of goods, including sausages, sugar and candy, were being brought in from Uzbekistan and sold en masse at local markets.
Following the flurry of openness ushered in by the policy of integration championed by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, there are signs that the region’s governments are growing wary of the risk that such developments can pose for local business. Tajikistan, with its underdeveloped economy, is severely exposed to Uzbekistan. But Uzbekistan is likewise exposed to Kyrgyzstan, where traders have made a killing funneling through cheap Chinese-made white goods into their larger neighbor’s market. Uzbek authorities have accordingly taken steps to minimize the volume of goods entering from Kyrgyzstan.
While such isolated cases may not spell total doom for the integration agenda, it is becoming evident that there is need for more dialogue and coordination between the governments before the agenda can be moved forward.
Sign up for Eurasianet's free weekly newsletter.