Like other Central Asian countries, Turkmenistan is highly trade dependent. While natural gas and processed cotton fiber are the country's most important export items, Turkmenistan is heavily dependent on imports for industrial equipment, industrial raw materials, and a number of basic food items such as grain, milk and dairy products, potatoes, and sugar. Agricultural products, of which cotton makes up the vast majority, accounted for about 9% of total exports in 2000, while mineral fuels brought in 81% of export receipts.
A disappointing cotton harvest in 1996 caused an 80% decline in cotton processing that year, but production has rebounded in the past few years. Continuing difficulties with gas export payments and use of Russian gas pipelines to reach the European market resulted in a decrease in that sector as well, but the problem seemed to be solved as 2000 production was at an all-time high.
Principal trading partners in 2000 (in millions of US dollars) were as follows:
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