GARLYK, Turkmenistan, March 31 Turkmenistan
opened a $1 billion Belarussian-built potash plant on Friday,
aiming to export 1.2 million tonnes of fertilisers to China and
India a year as part of its drive to diversify away from natural
The Central Asian nation has faced foreign currency
shortages after its gas exports were hit hard by declining
prices and volumes, and the government is banking on the start
of potash production and other projects to make the economy more
As a potash exporter, Turkmenistan will compete with its
former Soviet overlord Russia, home to the world's biggest
producer Uralkali, and Belarus, also a major global
Belarussian companies have built the plant and Minsk has
said it would help Turkmenistan market the product.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko attended the
opening ceremony in eastern Turkmenistan and said most of the
plant's production would be exported to China and India - the
world's biggest potash importers.
"This is Central Asia's biggest potash plant, one can
confidently say it will produce 1.5 million tonnes a year,"
Lukashenko said, adding that Berdymukhamedov had told him about
plans to build two more potash plants.
Russia's Uralkali said this month it expected total global
potash demand to rise by 1-2 million tonnes this year to 62
million to 63 million tonnes, driven by China.
(Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by