Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 108

The general trend toward economic recovery in the CIS noted earlier this year seems to be giving way to greater differentiation in performance, according to a report recently released by the CIS Interstate Statistical Committee. (Interfax, May 28) While Georgia continues to grow rapidly, economic growth is slowing for other countries — such as Kyrgyzstan and Armenia — that were reporting strong performance earlier in the year. By contrast, Ukraine and Moldova remain in the depths of recession.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in Georgia at the end of the first quarter was 9.0 percent higher than its was a year earlier; while growth for the January-April period (relative to January-April 1996) measured 3.8 percent in Azerbaijan, 1.9 percent in Armenia, and was under one percent in Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, there was no GDP growth recorded in Russia and Uzbekistan, and large declines were registered in Ukraine (7.9 percent) and Moldova (8.0 percent for the first quarter). These trends were consistent with industrial output data: Georgia recorded 15.1 percent industrial growth during January-April, while Kyrgyzstan experienced 12.7 percent growth, Uzbekistan 4.4 percent growth, Kazakstan 2.4 percent, Azerbaijan 1.1 percent, and Russia 0.6 percent. Declines in industrial production were reported in Turkmenistan (14.7 percent), Moldova (14.4 percent), Tajikistan (10.8 percent), Ukraine (5.6 percent), and Armenia (2.8 percent).

These figures signal that industrial production is growing faster than GDP all across the CIS, and suggest that industry is either powering economic recoveries or moderating recessions. Such trends contrast with the pattern of economic recovery in Eastern Europe, where industrial growth has tended initially to lag behind GDP. It is also noteworthy that the data for Belarus and Tajikistan are very difficult to interpret. While official statistics depict Belarus in the midst of an economic boom (with growth during January-April in GDP and industrial production of 10.0 and 12.8 percent, respectively), these numbers are inconsistent with press reports and independent accounts of rising inflation and increasing shortages and work stoppages. Likewise, the 4.8 percent GDP growth reported in war-torn Tajikistan is not terribly credible, especially when paired with the (more believable) 14.4 percent decline reported in industrial production.

Ukrainian-Romanian Treaty Finally Seals Status Quo.