Eurasianet reported on May 20 that China is poised to help Tajikistan complete some major infrastructure projects, including modernization of the state-controlled aluminum smelter (Tajik Aluminum Company, or TALCO), the country’s largest industrial enterprise.

TALCO has reportedly been increasing output of late; it produced over 66,000 tons of primary aluminum in 2023, a 7.0 percent increase over the previous year’s total.  In 2024, output is projected to jump to 84,000 tons.

But the company’s economics director, Pavel Dyck, reportedly indicated in April that growth is hampered by production bottlenecks, adding that the entity was searching for an investor.

On May 19, at the conclusion of a two-day visit of the top Chinese diplomat to Tajikistan, officials from both countries signed a cooperation program for 2025-26.   

Earlier in May, Chinese and Tajik officials reportedly signed a protocol during an inter-governmental meeting in Beijing, outlining plans for China to help Tajik officials complete not just TALCO’s modernization, but also infrastructure projects in Dushanbe, the construction of a logistics center in Danghara, and an upgrade of a highway in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) to facilitate Europe-bound truck cargo originating in China.

Following the intergovernmental meeting, the Avesta news agency quoted China’s deputy commerce minister, Lin Zi, as saying bilateral relations had reached a “qualitatively new level.”  However, the protocol signed between the two states did not provide many specifics about construction timelines or levels of financial assistance.

According to official Tajik data, the bilateral trade between Tajikistan and China last year valued at 1.5 billion US dollars, a 24-percent increase over the previous year’s level.  The balance of trade tilts heavily in Beijing’s favor.

The Tajik Aluminum Company (TALCO) is one of the ten largest aluminum smelters in the world and the only aluminum producing plant in Central Asia.  TALCO is wholly owned by the Tajik government.  Tajikistan does not mine alumina but imports the raw material through tolling arrangements.

Construction of the Tajik aluminum plant (TadAZ) began in 1972, and the first pouring of aluminum took place on March 31, 1975.  The Tajik aluminum smelter has a rated capacity of 517,000 tons of primary aluminum per year.

On April 3, 2007, TadAZ was officially renamed to TALCO – Tajik Aluminum Company.