Turkmen customs officers confiscate hard-to-find Coca-Cola imported from Iran from shuttle traders

Since 2017, when Turkmenistan's entrepreneurs were confronted with problems related to currency conversion, the Coca-Cola bottling plant has occasionally ceased and resumed production. The disrupted production process was accompanied by fluctuations of prices for soft drinks.

As of now the production of Turkmenistan-bottled Coca-Cola has been suspended although the demand for it is still high. In this connection shuttle traders import small batches of Cola and other non-alcoholic beverages from Iran in an attempt to make some cash, but Turkmen customs officers confiscate the merchandise.

Small-scale entrepreneurs shared their problems with a correspondent of Chronicles of Turkmenistan hoping that this information will eventually be relayed to high-ranking officials who will help resolve the problem.

� We have not had permanent jobs for a long time. In order to be able to provide for our families we go to Iran through the border checkpoint of Badjigaran. We bring small batches of fizzy drinks as well as other merchandise in short supply: baby food, chicken meat, eggs, down pillows, socks, local detergents. However, Turkmen customs officers on a regular basis impose new restrictions without any explanations. For instance, now, in the hot weather, they have imposed an import restriction of 4 bottles of soft drinks per person and confiscate additional bottles. This is how small business support works in this country, � a woman from Bezmein complains.

According to vendors, they purchase Iran-made Coca-Cola at 9 manats per 1,5 liter bottle with customers, owners of privately-owned stores, waiting for the merchandise in Turkmenistan. The latter pay shuttle traders 14 manats per bottle and then resell soft drinks at 15,5 manats and higher.

� Basmachi used to live here a while ago. At the time he extorted baksheesh from caravans passing by or simply robbed them. Now this function is performed by Turkmen customs officers. No orders or rulings are shown to us! New bans and limitations are constantly being imposed. The seized merchandise is not documented as confiscated goods, they simply take them away for personal use, � an entrepreneur from the village of Yashlyk complained.

It should be mentioned that analogues of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite, such as Gosa Cynar, Kola Cynar, 7-Cynar are produced in Turkmenistan. They cost 9 manats per bottle and, according to locals, are of good quality but the demand for the original drinks remains quite high.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan