Soviet industrialization left a legacy of ecological devastation, uneven development, and an obsolete, rapidly deteriorating infrastructure. Furthermore, Soviet industrialization often ignored local conditions, conflicting with a traditional society hesitant to embrace new technology. Thus, the Soviets proceeded to emphasize heavy industry that was more and more based upon imported labor from the European regions of the Soviet Union. Local labor has not materialized to replace this technically skilled workforce. Turkmenistan has a strong resource base but inadequate training and financial resources to expand its domestic industry in the near future. Nevertheless, the government is taking steps to lessen its dependency upon industrial trade.
Turkmenistan has a critical shortage of industrial capacity to process its agricultural products and natural resources, a situation that has deteriorated considerably since 1991. Most industrial development in Turkmenistan under Soviet rule was oriented toward heavy industry, especially in chemicals and petrochemicals such as sulfuric acid, ammonia, detergents, and fertilizers. Small-scale steel production was used to manufacture water pumps and construction. Since independence, Turkmenistan has invested in the development of cement production and farm machinery; however, these form a very limited part of Turkmenistan industry. Turkmenistan has also begun to develop local leather works and foodstuffs industries, which remain underdeveloped due to low mechanization and an insufficiently trained workforce. Turkmenistan has no textile factories, only spinning and clothing; however, the Turkmenistan carpet industry remains vibrant and has an international reputation for excellent quality. The Turkmenistan Carpet Production Association manages 10 factories, although household production accounts for a considerable share of overall production.
Turkmenistan has developed numerous joint ventures with international companies in order to update its industrial capacities, increase productivity, and lower pollution levels, which remain high. In addition, it has increased investment in light industry, particularly in consumer and durable goods, but Turkmenistan relies on trade for most products.