The following article and pictures were provided by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
On March 24-26, the First Tashkent International Investment Forum was held in Tashkent. President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the plenary session.
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, Minister of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Khalid Al-Falih, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization Xiangchen Zhang, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Konstantin Limitovsky, Senior Vice President of the International Finance Corporation Stephanie von Friedeburg. The meeting was moderated by Jonathan Charles, best known as a news presenter for BBC World News and currently the Director of Communications at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan welcomed the forum participants and addressed the event, telling about the reforms and transformations carried out in the country over the past few years, as well as outlined priority areas for its further development.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that for many centuries Uzbekistan, located on the territory of ancient Mawarannahr in the center of the Great Silk Road, attracted the attention of merchants, businessmen and entrepreneurs from different regions of the world, since ancient times famous as the territory where caravan routes intersect across the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa.
Uzbekistan, which has a 3-thousand-year history of statehood, has long been a center where trade, economy, science, culture and art have been actively developing.
In continuation of these traditions, based on the principle of “From the great past to the great future”, intensive work is being carried out in Uzbekistan to continue economic and social development. In this regard, the Head of the state listed the key areas of reforms in Uzbekistan.
In particular, a big step was taken in 2017 – restrictions on the conversion of foreign currency and the repatriation of profits by foreign investors were lifted. For the first time, Uzbekistan banks and large enterprises received international ratings and entered the global financial markets.
To ensure openness to the international community, Uzbekistan introduced visa-free access for citizens of 90 foreign countries, while citizens of another 60 countries were allowed to obtain a visa in a simplified manner. According to these indicators, we have achieved the status of the most open state in the region.
Systematic work is being carried out in combating corruption and ensuring the protection of citizens' rights and freedoms. In 2020, Uzbekistan adopted a National Human Rights Strategy, and for the first time in history, Uzbekistan was elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
The success achieved in building a civil society, ensuring freedom of speech, supporting the activities of media, ensuring the protection of labor rights and the development of human capital was noted. It was announced that more than 21 thousand new education institutions for schoolchildren have been created in the country over the past 5 years, about 200 new schools have been built, about 3 thousand schools have been reconstructed and fully equipped. In the same short period, 82 new universities and institutes were created, including 23 foreign universities, and the total number of higher education institutions reached 159. The level of enrollment of school graduates in higher education has increased from the previous 9 to 28 percent.
Achievements in reforming the economic sphere were also listed: easing the tax burden, reducing customs duties, improving tax administration, systemic measures for the development of entrepreneurship and improving the investment climate.
As a result of the measures, the volume of annual foreign investments attracted to the country's economy has tripled. Their total volume over the past 5 years has amounted to $25 billion. At the same time, about 59 thousand investment projects were implemented, due to which more than 2.5 million new jobs were created.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev also elaborated on the key priorities of the New Uzbekistan Development Strategy for 2022-2026, including 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, reducing the state's share in the economy, further stimulating entrepreneurial activity, ensuring the protection of investors' rights, accelerated development and modernization of infrastructure, stimulating the production of high-value-added products based on local raw materials, investing in human capital, liberalizing foreign trade and ensuring gender equality.
It was announced that as a result of the reforms over the next 5 years, the gross domestic product will reach $100 billion, and annual exports will increase by 2 times and exceed the figure of $30 billion. The share of the private sector in GDP will be increased to 80 percent. By 2030, Uzbekistan promises to become a country with incomes of citizens above the average level.
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan stressed the commitment to further consistent work to create the most comfortable and attractive conditions for investors and comprehensively deepen mutually beneficial partnerships with foreign partners and international organizations.
Following the event, the President wished the participants productive work at the Forum, active cooperation and the achievement of new mutually beneficial agreements on the implementation of joint projects.
The heads of international financial institutions and financial organizations also delivered speeches at the event, expressing their views on the prospects for the development of Uzbekistan.
The investment, trade-economic and industrial potential of Uzbekistan, prospects for the development of regional and global trade relations, mechanisms for attracting investment, trade liberalization and improving the competitiveness of the national economy, further steps to industrialize the country and focus the industry on the production of products with high added value, measures for the transformation of domestic energy and the transition to alternative energy sources, issues of strengthening the transport connectivity of the countries of the region and increasing their transit potential discussed on the sidelines of the sessions and discussions of the forum.
The main attention was paid to restoring and stimulating the accelerated development of economic activity in the post-COVID period, reducing poverty, regulating monetary policy, supporting business, developing the banking sector and the financial market.
The event also included 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, Uzbekistan – China Investment Forum “Industrial Cooperation. New Opportunities”, as well as a Country Platform for Uzbekistan, which will be attended by the heads of international financial institutions, foreign government financial organizations and development partners.