The session was also attended by the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile Renaud-Basso, President of the Asian Development Bank Masatsugu Asakawa, and Minister of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to the President of Uzbekistan’s press service. Stephanie von Friedeburg, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization Khalid Al-Falih, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Xiangchen Zhang, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Konstantin Limitovsky, Senior Vice President of the International Finance Corporation Jonathan Charles, a former BBC World News news presenter who is now the Director of Communications at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, chaired the discussion.
The Head of State welcomed the forum attendees and spoke at the occasion, detailing the country’s reforms and transformations over the last few years as well as outlining priority areas for future development.
The President stated that for many centuries, Uzbekistan, which is located on the ancient Mawarannahr territory in the heart of the Great Silk Road, has attracted merchants, businessmen, and entrepreneurs from all over the world, as it has been known since ancient times as the crossroads of caravan routes between Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Uzbekistan, which has a three-thousand-year history of statehood, has long been a hub for the development of trade, economy, science, culture, and art.
In keeping with these traditions, and based on the philosophy of “From the Great Past to the Great Future,” Uzbekistan is working hard to maintain economic and social progress. In this regard, the President of the Republic outlined the important reform areas in Uzbekistan.
In 2017, a significant step forward was made when prohibitions on foreign currency conversion and profit repatriation by foreign investors were eliminated. Uzbekistan’s banks and significant corporations obtained international ratings for the first time, allowing them to participate in global financial markets.
To ensure openness to the international community, Uzbekistan granted visa-free entry to nationals of 90 countries, while people of another 60 countries were granted a shortened visa application process. We have gained the status of being the most open state in the region based on these factors.
Corruption is being combated and citizens’ rights and liberties are being protected in a systematic manner. Uzbekistan developed a National Human Rights Strategy in 2020, and it was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the first time in history.
It was observed that progress had been made in constructing a civil society, protecting freedom of speech, supporting media activities, ensuring the preservation of labor rights, and developing human capital. Over the last five years, more than 21 thousand new education institutions for schoolchildren have been established in the country, with approximately 200 new schools being built and approximately 3 thousand schools being reconstructed and fully equipped. In the same time frame, 82 new universities and institutes, including 23 foreign universities, were established, bringing the total number of higher education institutions to 159. The percentage of high school graduates enrolled in higher education has climbed from 9% to 28%.
Easing the tax burden, cutting customs tariffs, improving tax administration, structural initiatives for the promotion of entrepreneurship, and enhancing the investment climate were also listed as achievements in economic reform.
The number of annual foreign investments attracted to the country’s economy has tripled as a result of the initiatives. Over the last five years, they have generated a total volume of $25 billion. Approximately 59 thousand investment projects were implemented at the same period, resulting in the creation of almost 2.5 million new jobs.
The President also discussed the key priorities of the New Uzbekistan Development Strategy for 2022-2026, which include the consistent continuation of measures to ensure economic and political stability, the creation of a compact and highly efficient public administration system focused on supporting business, the reduction of the state’s share in the economy, further stimulating entrepreneurial activity, ensuring investor rights protection, and accelerated development.
It was announced that, as a result of the reforms, the gross domestic product will reach $100 billion over the next five years, and annual exports will more than double to $30 billion. The private sector’s contribution to GDP will be boosted to 80%. Uzbekistan is on track to become a country with citizens earning more than the average by 2030.
The Head of State emphasized the importance of continuing to work diligently to create the most favorable and appealing circumstances for investors, as well as to thoroughly strengthen mutually beneficial partnerships with foreign partners and international organizations.
Following the event, the President wished the attendees a productive Forum, active cooperation, and new mutually advantageous agreements on the implementation of cooperative projects.
The chiefs of international financial institutions and financial organizations also spoke at the event, sharing their perspectives on Uzbekistan’s future possibilities.
Uzbekistan’s investment, trade-economic, and industrial potential, prospects for regional and global trade development, mechanisms for attracting investment, trade liberalization, and improving the national economy’s competitiveness, additional steps to industrialize the country and focus industry on the production of high-value-added products, and measures to transform domestic energy and transition to alternative energy sources
The main focus in the post-COVID period will be on restoring and boosting faster economic growth, decreasing poverty, managing monetary policy, supporting businesses, and strengthening the banking sector and financial market.
The event will also feature the 5th meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economy, Science and Technology, Culture, Sports and Youth between Uzbekistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Uzbekistan-China Investment Forum “Industrial Cooperation. New Opportunities” and a Country Platform for Uzbekistan, which will be attended by the heads of international financial institutions, foreign government financial organizations, and development partners.
The Tashkent International Investment Forum will take place from March 26 to March 28.