Underlying dynamics of regional (dis-)integration in post-Soviet Central Asia

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores the potential for external actors to promote regional cohesion in post-Soviet Central Asia through a study of the requisite factors, internal to the region, for regional integration to proceed. Specifically, the thesis explores the potential benefits from economic integration, through a study of trade potentials, and the absence or presence of demand for and supply of regional integration pol-icies. The study finds that Central Asian republics may benefit from economic integration through increased intra-regional trade potential as well by pursuing, jointly, trade facilitation with external partners. The study also finds that demand for market enlargement through regional integration from the Central Asian busi-ness community is limited owing to the scarcity of growth-oriented businesses. This dearth stems from under-appreciation of free market business models and lack of business skills, as well as business environments, which discourage busi-ness growth. Regional economic integration policies are pursued by some Central Asian governments, namely the Kazakh and Kyrgyz governments, though this takes the form of a wider Eurasian integration, not Central Asian regionalism. To the extent integration policies are pursued, they are a reflection of government preferences not bottom-up driven demands by the business community.
The thesis further finds that the pursuit of Eurasian integration is detrimental to the development of Central Asian regionalism, as the prominent role of Russia in the Eurasian framework, discourages participation of other Central Asian repub-lics. The Kazakh pursuit of regional leadership through promotion of Eurasian integration, therefore, contributes to regional fragmentation. Similarly, Uzbeki-stan’s protectionist policies cause fragmentation, for instance by encouraging the Kyrgyz government’s pursuit of Eurasian integration. Moreover, the political structures of the Central Asian republics are found to be detrimental to trade facil-itation and regional integration policies as powerful elites have vested interest in the status quo. Consequently, attempts to promote regional cohesion in Central Asia by actors external to the region are deemed to be premature.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorNatasha Kuhrt (Supervisor) & Ramon Pacheco Pardo (Supervisor)

Cite this