Kyrgyzstan: the transition to a market economy by World Bank

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Its economy was characterized by heavy dependence and excessive specialization through trade with the FSU. Official transfers from the Union averaged 10 percent of GDP during 198991, and additional direct financing for enterprises was available from their parent organizations elsewhere in the FSU. The trade deficit averaged about 14 percent of GDP during this period, and trade was predominantly conducted within the FSU. Exports to the rest of the world amounted to less than two percent of total exports over the past three years, and convertible currency imports exceeded such exports by a factor of over 20.

At the same time, the extent of economic decline already expected could threaten the ability of the authorities to pursue reform forcefully. The technical capacity to implement the far-reaching reforms envisaged may limit the speed of reform, even if the social and political consensus for reform can be maintained. Finally, external financing shortfalls could aggravate each of these risks, deepen the output decline and further delay the recovery. Page xxiii 35. Significant external assistance will therefore be required, both in the form of financing and technical assistance to implement the reform agenda.

However, given fiscal constraints and uncertain electricity demand in the short term, investment priority should be accorded to hydro projects that were due for completion in the next 12 years. Major new investments should not be initiated until a study of electricity demand in the new environment is available, or until hard currency export contracts have been concluded. Attracting foreign investment for oil and gas exploration and mineral extraction is also a priority, for which reforms in the legal and fiscal framework will be important.

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