Tuesday Oct 31, 2017
ASHGABAT: Reclusive Turkmenistan hailed on Tuesday its first shipment of ice cream to China as the crisis-stricken Central Asian country seeks to diversify its exports beyond hydrocarbons.
Ata Bayramov, a representative of state-endorsed Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said a private company, Taze Ay, had dispatched over six tonnes of ice cream to China, which is also Turkmenistan's leading purchaser of natural gas.
"This is a trial party designed to test the ground for further cooperation," Bayramov told AFP.
If the trial delivery is successful, "the company plans to increase supplies and the number of assortments," he added.
According to Turkmenistan's state statistics committee, the tightly-controlled republic does not presently export any other food products to China.
Strongman leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has implored businesses to add diversity to an economy where hydrocarbons equal more than 90 per cent of exports.
A growing economic crisis in Turkmenistan has seen the government slice nearly a fifth off the value of its manat currency in 2015 while slashing subsidies that made water, electricity and gas effectively free earlier this month.
Downward pressure on energy prices in recent years and the collapse of a long-term contract to supply natural gas to the Russian market last year has increased Turkmenistan's dependence on Chinese demand.
Turkmenistan sits on the world's fourth largest reserves of natural gas in the world.