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The colloquially referred to as “the stans”  are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries were once a part of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and now collectively form the region called Central Asia. The region historically played a role as crossroads to connect people, commodities and ideas between Europe, Western Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. It was the Silk Road that paved the path to such transfers.

Pakistan and cars

 Central Asia is an extremely large region of diverse geography, including high passes and mountains, vast deserts, and especially treeless grassy steppes. After gaining independence in 1990’s the controlled economy started moving toward market economy, and all five countries are implementing structural reforms to improve competitiveness. The fastest growth in industry was observed in Turkmenistan, whereas Kazakhstan leads the Central Asian region in terms of foreign direct investments.

The Kazakhstan economy accounts for more than 70% of all the investment attracted in Central Asia. In terms of the economic influence of big powers, China is viewed as one of the key economic players in Central Asia; especially after Beijing launched its grand development strategy known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013.