Cablegate Chronicles: How to Run a Licorice Business

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A U.S. ambassador describes Turkmenistan's licorice and machine parts industries.

FROM: ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: FEBRUARY 26, 2010
CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
SEE FULL CABLE

¶10. Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan's second largest city, continues its role as a transport hub and industrial center, despite diminished regional commerce in the post-Soviet era. A large complex that processes locally-harvested licorice root continues to prosper due to the availability of inputs and a healthy export market. A machine parts factory has faced greater challenges, having been forced to find a new product line and relying solely on the domestic market. Unlike the licorice complex, which pre-dates the Russian Revolution, the machine parts factory was a Soviet creation that lacks an obvious market in Turkmenistan's current economy. Thanks to government subsidies, however, it does not appear that even a struggling, Soviet era enterprise is threatened with closure. Given its success at maintaining its production equipment, the factory could see better days if it found the right foreign partner interested in a low-cost metal parts.

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