Taras Shevchenko St. 21A, Office 505, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 100060

Monthly Meeting on May 21, 2020

On May 21, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Uzbekistan, the AmCham has organized remotely its regular monthly meeting hosting HE Sodyq Safoev – the Senator and First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan. More than forty AmCham members and private sector representatives from around the region have joined this online event and took active part in the lively policy deliberations and true public-private dialogue.
The Senator opened the meeting with some general conclusions from the most recent Corona virus pandemic situation:
1. The current global pandemic situation truly demonstrates the interlinkages of all nations and further marks the progressive course of globalization. Clearly this is not the end of the globalization as many start to rumor now. Globalization will not fade away soon!
2. COVID-19 further strengthened the reforms and good governance practices in Uzbekistan as it gave momentum to the civil society and the NGO sector in the country.
Mr. Sodyq Safoev cheered the effectiveness of the measures taken by the government for saving the lives of people and supporting the business, especially the small and medium sized enterprises. More than 10 trillion Uzbek Soums “UZS” (equivalent of 1 billion US Dollars “USD”) were allocated at the Special Anti-crisis Fund to support various industry sectors and small businesses as well as expanding local employment programs and extending measures to improving the health system to fight with the pandemic situation. The impact of the global economic crisis affected almost all sectors of the economy but mainly the energy sector, oil prices and tourism which were hardly hit by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Remittances from abroad have also diminished sharply. The GDP will most probably lower down with few points from the years before but with the help of the Uzbekistan foreign partners and the US, the hopes are that the country will recover quickly in the post COVID-19 years.
Bilateral relations between the United States and Uzbekistan have been very good and stable as never before. The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Uzbekistan offered new opportunities to advance connectivity among the Central Asian states, promoted strategic alliances, political dialogue on human rights, religion freedom, military to military partnership and etc.
The Senator briefed the webinar audience, that on April 16, 2020, an online working group meeting was held between the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan and the US Department of Commerce with an online discussion on promotion of Uzbek goods in the US. The office of trade representative expressed commitment to expedite the WTO negotiations and further promote liberalization, market economy, fighting against the corruption (new UZ agency to be opened to institutionalize this) and IPR discussions to prepare Uzbekistan to become an equal partner of the WTO and facilitate the ongoing reform process in the country. Yet, a lot remains to be done to improve the investment climate. Some remarkable reforms have been implemented to improve the “Doing Business” ratings for Uzbekistan and the country has been upgraded to No.69 ranking and in the top ten (No.3) on easiness of starting a new business registration. As a result of the reforms in the country the total FDI stock stood at USD 9.5 billion in 2019 with some additional USD 4 billion direct institutional investments secured from the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The main FDI partners – China, Russia , Germany (34%) of all FDIs but diminishing slightly with 50 more nations showing interest which is a clear sign of FDI diversification that is coming up. We hope that 2021 will be more remarkable as crisis may open some new opportunities!
Q&A Session:
After closing his opening remarks, the Senator invited all Webinar participants to also share their ideas and suggestions as the Senate is committed and open to listen and help exercise the necessary parliamentarian control for improving the business environment in the country.
Mr. Sodyq Safoev reminded of Ms. Tara Blake’s (OPIC) visit last year and expressed hopes with the reorganization into the new Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for future investments in the country. He informed the audience that during the pandemic there are 18 new American companies that have registered in Uzbekistan.
Towards the end of the webinar, Senator Safoev presented Mr. Ravshanbek Alimov, the new Chairman of the Senate Committee on International Relations, Foreign Economic Relations, Foreign Investments and Tourism who was also present at the meeting. Mr. Alimov has worked as Ambassador to Ukraine, worked a lot with all CIS countries and has a broad diplomatic experience.
At the end of the meeting HE Sodyq Safoev once again cheered the excellent work of AmCham, commended this initiative for organizing the online webinar which turned out to be very useful with hopes for follow up. The Senator expressed special gratitude to the AmCham staff for arranging, even during the pandemic, such a good event that has produced and encouraged very constructive public-private dialogue!