February 25, 2019 Monthly Meeting

This month’s meeting featured two prominent speakers from Washington DC, USA.
The first speaker was Deputy Assistant Secretary David Meale of the State Department Bureau of Economics and Business Affairs. He paid his first official visit in his current role since his appointment in December of 2018. It was DAS Meale’s first visit to Uzbekistan in the framework of Annual BiLateral Consultations. (ABC), and led the U.S. Department of State South and Central Asian Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ambassador Alice Wells and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov on February 26, 2019. DAS Meale praised the ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan, noting the exceptional progress in economic liberalization and that it is halfway to accessing WTO. Significant progress has been achieved by the GoU in the scope of ending child and forced labor. Liberalization of the currency exchange rate and related procedures has made Uzbekistan more appealing to U.S. investors as well. According to Ambassador Wells, the U.S. commitment to this partnership and its support of President Mirziyoyev’s reform agenda, the U.S. assistance to Uzbekistan over the past year has grown to approximately $28.1 million USD in the fiscal year 2018, and from $10.1 million in the fiscal year 2016. The U.S. delegation encouraged further deepening of ties in a wide range of political, economic, educational, security, cultural and other fields, while reiterating strong support for Uzbekistan’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. DAS Meale did state that the Intellectual Property Rights protection is an area to be approved and which is currently keeping technological companies from coming to Uzbekistan.
Questions from the audience to DAS Meale were regarding the status of the Investment Protection and Dual Taxation agreements between the U.S. and Uzbekistan which are pending approval from the U.S. Senate. Another question was on how to enforce Uzbeki lobbying in Washington DC, especially via Caucuses in the U.S. Senate. Following the ABCs, the delegation signed two MOUs expanding cooperation in the energy and education sectors.
The second speaker during the meeting was Albert Jaeger, IMF Mission Chief for Uzbekistan. “Uzbekistan: Foreign Investor Perceptions of Economic Reforms”.
Mr. Jaeger’s visit to Uzbekistan was dedicated to the IMF Article IV Consultations with the government of Uzbekistan. At the request of IMF, the AmCham office surveyed members on the impact of reforms in 31 reform areas and the results of the survey were presented to the members . Some results of the survey were submitted in recommendations to the government during the Article IV Consultations in February 2019. As a result, investors are optimistic on the key reforms in Uzbekistan, but understand that attracting FDIs to Uzbekistan remains a work in progress which includes the implementation of the next series of reforms , the most pressing of which is the creation of a strong institutions and a functioning public sector.