APRIL 13 (The Conway Bulletin) — Sales of GM Uzbekistan cars to Russia recorded their second consecutive monthly increase, raising hopes that the car-making industry in Central Asia has reached a turning point and pulled away from the low it hit in January.
If data next month shows another monthly increase in GM Uzbekistan’s sales to Russia, it will be the first time since September 2013 that the biggest car manufacturer in Central Asia will have recorded three months of consecutive growth.
Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses that publishes monthly data on Russian car sales, said March’s sales data from GM Uzbekistan may mark a turning point.
“The automotive market as a whole is not in good shape yet, although it is gradually moving closer to hitting a bottom after many months of continuous decline,” he said.
Russia is the driver of the car manufacturing sector in Central Asia. A combination of sanctions slapped on it by the European Union and the United States for the Kremlin’s interference in Ukraine and a sharp fall in the price of oil has tipped it into recession.
And it has had a serious knock-on effect.
The economies of Central Asia and the South Caucasus are, to a large extent, reliant on a healthy, vibrant Russian economy. If the Russian economy is ailing the impact hits Central Asian economies — and especially those industries, such as car-making, that are heavily reliant on imports to Russian consumers.
March’s data showed that GM Uzbekistan sold 1,677 units to Russia, still down from 1,757 it sold in March 2015, but an increase of 5.7% from February.
In January, GM Uzbekistan sold 1,269 units to Russia, barely a sixth of its monthly sales during the summer of 2012.
This story was first published on April 15 in issue 276 of The Conway Bulletin. To sign up for free to the Bulletin’s newswires, click here