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Coke Eyes Turkmenistan Exit

Turkmenistan’s Coca-Cola bottler has ceased production, becoming another victim of the country’s worsening economy.

23 November 2017

Turkmenistan Coca-Cola Bottlers has suspended operations and could soon shut down its business.

 

The company has operated in the country for almost 20 years and was an official sponsor of the Asian Games in September, Ashgabat’s multi-billion dollar sporting extravaganza.

 

The weakened condition of the national currency, the manat, was a key factor in the company’s decision to suspend operations, the opposition-run Chronicles of Turkmenistan writes.

 

The black market rate for the manat hit a new low of around nine to the U.S. dollar late last month, compared to 7.5 to the dollar the previous month, bneIntellinews reports. The official rate fluctuates only slightly at around 3.5 to the dollar.

 

The company also had problems importing ingredients, “as well as the pressure by local business entities which are affiliated with the authorities,” Chronicles of Turkmenistan says.

 

The manat’s slide reflects the deepening slump resulting from the impact of low global energy prices on the country’s budget. Natural gas exports are the backbone of the economy, but the combination of lower prices with political and technical hurdles has hurt the gas industry.

 

The authorities have sought to keep money from exiting the country by slapping increasingly stiffer limits on the amount of cash Turkmenistanis can withdraw from foreign ATMs. As of early November, people traveling or residing abroad can withdraw only $50 a day from bank machines, according to bneIntellinews.

 

 

  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provided$10 million worth of financing to Turkmenistan Coca-Cola Bottlers in February. The company also received a $20 million loan from the bank in 2011 to expand production capacity. The recent loan was intended to support the company’s expansion.

 

  • Despite the loans, the company’s capacity is a relatively modest 88 million bottles per year, a little over a bottle every month for the country’s 5.5 million people.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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