The increased transparency and bold reforms of the last five years have seen Uzbekistan’s economy grow at a speed few predicted. But can President Shavkat Mirzyoyev achieve his dream to create the Commonwealth of Independent States’ second highest economy after Russia?
Only after significant investment, both at home and internationally. At an open dialogue event held in Tashkent on August 22, Mirziyoyev made clear his determination to allay any concerns for potential investors, to tame inflation and to push the country’s sovereign rating higher.
The event was attended by heads of ministries and departments responsible for the economy, trade, construction and investment, as well as business executives.
In the 12 months since President Mirziyoyev declared that August 20 would become a national ‘Day of Entrepreneurs’ as part of an ongoing drive to attract foreign investment, the country has seen a record amount of new businesses opening – more than 55,000. Some 26,000 of these enterprises have revenues of over US$1 million.
“We are entering a very important and decisive stage on the path of building a New Uzbekistan,” President Mirziyoyev told those present at the event. “Your selfless work, innovative thinking and approach are more important today than ever, and I believe that you will set an example for the representatives of all spheres.”
The idea of the open dialogue is to address current and potential entrepreneurs’ concerns, in nine thematic sessions.
Despite the pandemic and recent global economic crises, Uzbekistan has exceeded financial predictions. In 2022, according to the World Bank’s report in June, the country’s GDP per capita rose to US$2,100, a rise of 4.3 per cent. The World Bank noted that GDP growth in 2023 could be 5.3 per cent.
Forecasters predict that GDP will reach US$4,000 by 2030, allowing Uzbekistan to join the ranks of “states with an upper-middle income”
The country’s economic growth is spread across various sectors. Its natural resources include natural gas, oil, gold, silver, uranium, coal and copper. It is one of the world’s leading producers of cotton and silk, a practice that dates back to the 4th century.
Mild winters and 320 days of sunshine provide a solid bedrock for agriculture, and Uzbekistan has extensive orchards and vineyards. Other industries include construction, textiles, leather processing, fertiliser production, pharmaceuticals and the automobile industry.
Tourism, too, is on the rise. There are almost 7,500 historic cities in Uzbekistan, and the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva and Shakhrisabz have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, as has the Tian Shan ‘Heavenly Mountain’ range.
Opening up Uzbekistan’s borders is part of the government’s push to become an international player, and can only increase confidence in those looking to invest in a fast-growing economy.
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