The first Tashkent International Investment Forum started in the capital, which opened with a plenary session, in which the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev took part.
The President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Odile-Renault Basso, President of the Asian Development Bank Masatsugu Asakawa, Minister of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Khalid al-Falih, Vice President of the World Trade Organization Xiangchen Zhang, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Konstantin Limitovsky, Vice-President of the International Finance Corporation Stephanie von Friederburg also attended the session. The meeting was moderated by the Director of Communications of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Jonathan Charles, who became famous as a news anchor on the international television channel BBC World News.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev greeted the forum participants and delivered an opening speech. He spoke about the reforms and transformations carried out in the country over the past few years as well as has outlined the priority areas for its further development.
The President noted that for many centuries Uzbekistan, located on the territory of ancient Transoxiana in the center of the Great Silk Road, has attracted the attention of merchants, businessmen and entrepreneurs from different regions of the world. Since the ancient times it has been famous as a venue where the caravan routes cross the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa.
The Uzbek land, which has a 3000-year history of statehood, has long been a center where trade, economy, science, culture and art were actively developing.
As a follow-up of these traditions and based on the principle «From a great past to a great future», the intensive work is being carried out in our country to continue economic and social development. In this regard, the President listed the key areas of reforms in Uzbekistan.
In particular, in 2017 a considerable step was taken to lift the restrictions on foreign currency conversion and repatriation of profits by foreign investors. For the first time, the Uzbek banks and large enterprises received international ratings and entered the global financial markets.
In order 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 given the opportunity 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.
A systematic work is being carried out in the areas of combating corruption and ensuring the protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens. In 2020, Uzbekistan adopted the National Human Rights Strategy, and for the first time in history, our country was elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council.
The progress in building a civil society, ensuring freedom of speech, supporting the activities of the media, ensuring the protection of labor rights and developing human capital were noted. In particular, it was announced that over the past 5 years more than 21 thousand new educational institutions for schoolchildren have been created in the country, about 200 new schools have been built as well as about 3,000 schools were reconstructed and fully equipped. As a result, the enrollment rate of school graduates at a higher education increased from the previous 9 percent to 28 percent.
The achievements in reforming the economic sphere were also listed: easing a tax burden, reducing customs duties, improving tax administration, systemic measures to develop entrepreneurship and improve the investment climate.
As a result of these measures, the volume of annual foreign investment engaged to the country’s economy has tripled. Over the past 5 years, their total volume amounted to 25 billion dollars. Along with this, about 59 thousand investment projects were implemented, thanks to which more than 2.5 million new jobs were created.
During his speech, the President has 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. Apart from this, the President has also highlighted other major priorities such as further stimulating entrepreneurial activity, ensuring the protection of investor rights, accelerated development and modernization of infrastructure, stimulating the production of high-value-added products based on the local raw materials, investing in human capital, liberalizing foreign trade and ensuring a gender equality.
It was announced that as a result of reforms over the next 5 years, the gross domestic product will reach $100 billion, and annual exports will double and exceed $30 billion. At the same time, the share of the private sector in GDP will be increased to 80 percent. By 2030, Uzbekistan promises to become a country with above-average incomes for its citizens.
The President has emphasized the commitment to further the consistent work to create the most comfortable and attractive conditions for investors and comprehensively deepen the mutually beneficial partnerships with foreign partners and international organizations.
In conclusion, the President wished the participants a productive work at the Forum, active interactions and achievement of new mutually beneficial agreements on the implementation of joint projects.
At an event, the executives of international financial institutions and financial organizations also stepped forward expressing their point of view on the prospects for the development of Uzbekistan.
On the sidelines of the panel sessions and discussions of the Forum, topics such as the investment, trade, economic and industrial potential of Uzbekistan, prospects for the development of regional and global trade relations, mechanisms for attracting investments, liberalizing trade and increasing the competitiveness of the national economy, further steps to industrialize the country and vectoring the industry to produce products will be discussed. Moreover, high value-added products, measures to transform the domestic energy sector and switch to alternative energy sources, the issues of strengthening the transport interconnectedness of the countries of the region and increasing their transit potential will be topics for discussions.
A special attention will be 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.
As a part of the Forum program, the Fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission in the trade, economy, science and technology, culture, sports and youth between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Uzbek-Chinese Investment Forum «Industrial Cooperation. New Opportunities», as well as a Country platform for Uzbekistan, which will be attended by heads of international financial institutions, foreign government financial organizations and development partners, shall take place.
The Tashkent International Investment Forum shall end on March 26.