The President of Uzbekistan outlines the priorities of the country’s investment policy and the main areas of cooperation with foreign partners

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May 2, 2024

The President of Uzbekistan outlines the priorities of the country’s investment policy and the main areas of cooperation with foreign partners

On May 2, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev participated in the plenary meeting of the Third Tashkent International Investment Forum at the Congress Center in Tashkent.

The event was also attended by the Vice President of the Republic of Türkiye Cevdet Yılmaz, Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore Seah Kian Peng, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Akylbek Japarov, Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile Renaud-Basso, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Tatiana Molcean, President of the OPEC Fund for International Development Abdulhamid Alkhalifa and others. Over two and a half thousand foreign guests arrived from 93 countries.

Over the past three years, the international forum, organized on the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, has become an effective platform for enhancing bilateral and multilateral investment cooperation, discussing the most pressing problems, and developing advanced ideas and approaches for solving them.

At the beginning of his speech, the Head of state welcomed the session participants and noted that the growing authority and demand for this format indicate great interest in the irreversible reforms being carried out in the country and in the establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation.

It was noted that the conference is taking place during a period of increasing global geopolitical and economic problems, challenges, and threats to sustainable development. 

The world order is undergoing a profound transformation. Disruptions of supply chains of goods and services, a decrease in international trade and investment flows, and exacerbations of climate disasters demonstrate the instability of the situation.

The President of Uzbekistan emphasized that the growth rate of the world economy has been declining for the past three years. The trends related to foreign direct investments are not meeting expectations either. In 2023, the total volume of investments in developing countries decreased by 9%.

– Of course, we understand perfectly well that there is an unparalleled struggle for investors worldwide today, – Shavkat Mirziyoyev said. – However, one immutable fact is becoming clearer: no country can solve such problems alone. The spirit of mutual trust and respect and the principle of mutual support remain solid pillars of long-term cooperation.

The Leader of Uzbekistan listed the decisive steps being taken in the country to improve the investment and business environment fundamentally and to eliminate obstacles step by step. In this regard, comprehensive reforms are being implemented to ensure every entrepreneur feels free and confident.

As a result, the country’s economy has nearly doubled in recent years. Last year alone, growth rates reached 6 percent, while inflation remained below 9 percent. Trade turnover is steadily increasing, and the stability of the national currency and foreign exchange reserves is being maintained.

In the past few years, the country has attracted over 60 billion dollars in foreign investments, and more than 14 billion dollars from international financial institutions have been directed to social and infrastructure projects. 

The volume of foreign investments nearly doubled last year.

Notable increases are apparent in the fields of energy with companies like ACWA Power, Masdar, Total Eren, Voltalia, Ҫalɩk, and Aksa; in the chemical industry with Air Products, Indorama, and CAMCE; in mining and metallurgical industry with Orano and Danieli; in automotive and electrical engineering with BYD, KIA, and Samsung; and construction with Коҫ and Knauf along with other leading global companies. We have initiated over 300 investment and industrial projects and created hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Today, during this forum, new large-scale projects with world-renowned companies, such as Linde, Orascom, DataVolt, Bonafarm, Pasha Holding, and others, will be launched.

The decisions taken and the work carried out to further liberalize the economy, create a favorable investment climate, and comprehensively expand business opportunities were emphasized.

In particular, we are talking about preferences for foreign investors on dividend taxes, strengthening the legal framework and expanding the privatization program, introducing an entrepreneur sustainability rating, developing the infrastructure of industrial zones, and introducing a transparent system for allocating land.

In addition, the conditions for implementing projects through public-private partnerships are planned to extend to the social sphere and infrastructure. Work on harmonizing national legislation is gaining momentum as part of efforts to join the World Trade Organization.

The Tashkent International Arbitration Centre has been successfully operating to resolve disputes fairly.  The National Anti-Corruption Strategy until 2030 is being developed.

Another important indicator for investors is that over the past seven years, the enrollment rate in higher education has increased from 9 percent to 42 percent, and the number of higher education institutions has exceeded 200.

A visa-free travel regime has been introduced for more than 90 countries.

– Our main goal is to make Uzbekistan a reliable and long-term partner for foreign investors, – the President of Uzbekistan said.

The country is committed to developing a market economy, ensuring reliable protection of investors’ rights, further improving the favorable investment and business environment, creating more comfortable conditions for fair competition, and ensuring the safety of private property and the judicial system’s independence. 

All these principles are firmly enshrined in the new Constitution adopted by the referendum last year.

The Leader of Uzbekistan presented several specific proposals to strengthen investor rights protection. 

In particular, a draft Law “On Investments” has been developed in accordance with the rules and standards of the WTO. The country’s first international commercial court will soon begin its activities.

Introducing a completely new system of industrial zone activity will create even more favorable conditions for high-tech investment projects. In this context, it was proposed that all restrictions on the duration of the operation of special economic zones be abolished and that the lease period of land for foreign investors be increased from 25 to 49 years.

In general, within the framework of the Uzbekistan 2030 Strategy, the goal is to double per capita income by 2030 and take a place among countries with upper-middle income levels.

In his speech, the Head of state specifically focused on priority areas for expanding mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign investors.

First – green energy. Expanding the energy sector is crucial for the prosperity of the entire region. In this regard, work is underway on 28 projects. 

Renewable energy capacity exceeding 20 gigawatts and its share in the energy balance of 40 percent are planned to be created by 2030.

Large renewable energy facilities are being created together with strategic partners, and work has begun on green hydrogen. Last year alone, large wind and solar power plants with a capacity of 1.4 gigawatts were launched in partnership with Masdar, Gezhouba, and China Energy. 

Also, within the Forum, projects for the joint construction of hydroelectric power stations in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will be presented.

Noting that these projects are being implemented based on public-private partnerships, the Leader of Uzbekistan invited leading companies from all countries to participate in an open dialogue and practical cooperation.

Second – banking sector. In recent years, numerous private banks have been established in Uzbekistan. Leading European banks have entered the country’s market. Several digital banks are now operational.

During this Forum, the agreement was signed with the EBRD to privatize one of Uzbekistan’s leading banks, Asakabank. 

Similarly, the transformation and privatization processes of Uzbekistan’s leading banks continue in cooperation with the IMF, ADB, and other major international financial institutions.

The approaches to developing the capital market are being reviewed to meet the demand for financial resources. 

Third. Among the priorities of the mutually beneficial partnership is the joint development of mineral resources.

Uzbekistan has vast reserves of mineral resources and critical metals. Its resources include colossal amounts of gold, copper, tungsten, silver, uranium, and more than 30 rare earth metals.

Noting the established strategic interaction with the European Union in critical raw materials, the President of the country announced the development of similar agreements with the United States and the United Kingdom, and also invited leading companies to partnership in deep processing of strategic raw materials and creating an added value chain.

Adopting the Law “On Subsoil”, developed based on international experience, will also give new impetus for development.

Fourth – the country’s digital transformation. The export of IT services and software products has doubled within a year. This indicator is planned to be increased to $5 billion.

The Head of state noted the opportunities for foreign investors to participate in implementing promising IT projects, including the development of digital solutions for the economy, the introduction of artificial intelligence technologies, and the creation of green data centers.

The President of Uzbekistan paid particular attention to the development of transport infrastructure.

Substantial reforms are being made in the railway sector, opening vast opportunities for private investors. Joint projects are being developed to build toll roads and high-speed railways. Projects are being prepared for the development of existing and construction of new international airports.

It was noted that initial work has started on constructing railways China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan and Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan with foreign partners. These strategic projects will fundamentally change the region’s geo-economy and transform Central Asia into a global transit center that connects North and South, East and West.

Uzbekistan invites investors and international organizations to participate in these significant regional projects. 

– Investments are the engine of our country’s transformation and the most vital driver of our economic development, – the President of Uzbekistan noted. 

In conclusion, the Head of state expressed his confidence that today’s International Investment Forum and its fruitful discussions will lead practical cooperation to an entirely new, even higher level.

The speakers who spoke during the session highly appreciated the comprehensive progress achieved by Uzbekistan, shared their opinions and proposals for further strengthening and enhancing cooperation.

As part of the plenary session, with the participation of the President, the implementation of 15 new investment projects worth $8.7 billion, as well as the activities of 5 industrial facilities with a total project value of $2.8 billion, was launched.

The Tashkent International Investment Forum will conclude its work on May 3.