Asiatic Russia and Central Asia

Regional Overview

This region covers the Russian Federation east of the Ural mountains, the former USSR Republics sometimes referred to as ‘the stans’, Afghanistan and Mongolia. The terrain of this region is either flat open steppes, cold temperate coniferous forest or upland plateau. The population is generally sparse, often nomadic and with few large towns. They are ruled by tribal leaders or autocratic governments and Afghanistan remains a highly politically unstable state where terrorism is rife. The largest ‘Stan’ Kazakhstan is oil rich and is ranked in the world’s 50 most competitive countries. However, little of the wealth is shared with the population at large. Freedom of speech and the press do not exist in any countries within this region, the judiciary is not independent and there is generally a low respect for human rights.

Labour market summary: All countries in this region have an established body of employment law, but working conditions are generally poor and there are few effective safeguards. For instance, in the Kyrgyz Republic only 24% of the working population are employed in the formal economy. If an employee seeks to remove themselves from a dangerous working environment their employer may dismiss them.

In Uzbekistan the law limits employees to working for no more than 120 hours of overtime per year, but this is not enforced in practice.

Mongolia: This massive landlocked country has a population of only 3 million people. It is a representative democratic republic with a written constitution and guaranteed freedoms of religion and expression. Mongolia is an active member of the UN and its troops take part in peace keeping missions. One third of the population remains nomadic, but the single biggest industry is mining. The export of minerals accounts for over 80% of foreign trade. The principal employment law is the “Law on Labour 1999” (amended April 2015). The latest amendment reduced the initial work probationary period from six to three months. It also gave full-time rights to part-time workers. In Mongolia there is no law defining entitlement to paid or unpaid sick leave and the labour inspectorate is so small that it cannot adequately police even those employers in the formal employment sector.

In Turkmenistan there is no state labour inspectorate at all.

Pakistan: The labour market is fairly open, although many barrier exist for those in minority religious groups. The standard workweek is 48 hours (longer in some seasonal sectors). Enforcement of labour laws is left to provincial governments and their actions are ineffective because inspectors are generally open to bribes and workplace safety certificates are often obtained unlawfully. The informal employment sector is of uncertain size – but estimates place it at around 60%. Expatriate employees are highly vulnerable to kidnapping and terrorism and 24-hour personal protection is generally required.

Greatest advantages: Apart from Afghanistan, there is a high level of social order and security. Business representatives may enter and leave the countries with little personal risk. The level of literacy is high in some states, but standards of higher education vary greatly.

Greatest disadvantages: Scattered population, arbitrary laws, low command of

English, difficult logistics.

Proportion of global land area: 12.5%
Proportion of global population: 0.5%
Annual rate of population increase: 1.8% (Highest in Azerbaijan)
Life expectancy: Men 66.1 years Women 74.2 years
Working population in the informal economy: 23% to 76% according to country
GSI Modern slavery (Forced Labour) 0.5% (Uzbekistan 3.9%)
Unemployment rate: 8.4%
GDP/capita PPP (current) $561 (Afghanistan) to $7713 Kazakhstan
Female labour participation rate: 52%
Male labour participation rate: 77%

World Bank rating (doing business): 36 Kazakhstan to 183 Aghhanistan / 190

FedEE overall employment potential rating 4/10

FedEE regulatory rating: 2/10 – weak laws and very weak enforcement

Minimum wage rates (selected states)
– Kazakhstan 24459 Tenge/Month January 2017

– Kyrgyz Republic 5052 KGS 2017
– Mongolia MNT240,000/Month January 2017
– Tajikistan 400 TGS 2015
– Turkmenistan 650TMM January 2017
– Uzbekistan 149,775 UZS October 2016