According to official data released by the CIS Interstate Statistical Committee, Kyrgyzstan during the first nine months of the year reported a whopping 45.9 percent increase in industrial production (relative to the same period in 1996). (Russian agencies, October 27) This corresponded to growth in real GDP of 19.2 percent (for the first 8 months of the year, relative to the same period in 1996), rates that eclipsed the 12.1 percent and 11.9 percent growth in GDP and industrial production recorded by Georgia during these same time periods. Inflation continued to decline in both countries, falling to annual rates of about 17 percent in Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz TV, October 23) and into the single digits in Georgia.
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan also posted strong growth, with industrial production (for the first nine months) increasing by 6.3 and 3.6 percent, respectively. GDP grew by 4.9 percent and around 3 percent in the two countries (based on data for the first eight months). Azerbaijan also reported strong GDP growth (5.0 percent), although industrial production was essentially flat. The largest declines in output were recorded by Ukraine (GDP fell by 5 percent; industrial production was down by 2.4 percent); Moldova (GDP down by 4.3 percent; industrial production by 5.5 percent); and Tajikistan (GDP down by 2.8 percent; industrial production by 8 percent). Russian GDP and industrial production were up 0.2 and 1.5 percent, respectively, while Armenia registered a 2.3 percent increase in GDP but a 1.8 percent decline in industrial production. Belarus reported large increases in GDP and industrial production (and prices), but the Lukashenka regime’s "propaganda of success" and the absence of IMF monitoring of the Belarusan statistical agency make such claims difficult to interpret. Inflation rates generally remained low — Kazakhstan and Russia actually recorded declining prices for the months of August and September, respectively. The exceptions to this trend were Tajikistan, Belarus, and Armenia, where prices during September rose by 7.8, 5.0 and 3.4 percent, respectively.
These numbers show that, with few exceptions, the trend towards economic recovery continues. They also suggest that Armenia, which was the first CIS economy to return to growth in 1994, may now be the first CIS economy to be lapsing back into recession. The contrast with neighboring Georgia could hardly be starker.
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