On April 27, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the plenary session of the second Tashkent International Investment Forum.
The forum, having already become a good tradition, was held for the first time last year and was highly appreciated by business circles. The current event is attended by Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers – the Head of the Presidential Administration of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Japarov, President of the Islamic Development Bank Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser, UN Deputy Secretary-General Olga Algaerova, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure of the United Arab Emirates Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Economic Development of Hungary Marton Nagy, Chairman of the Board of ACWA Power Muhammad Abdullah Abunayan. In general, nearly 2.5 thousand representatives of business, banking and financial sector from 70 countries participated in the event.
At the beginning of his speech, our President greeted all the participants and noted that today’s meeting will serve to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation, open up new business opportunities. The work carried out in our country to further liberalize the economy, create broad conditions for business, strengthen the rule of law and legal guarantees is listed.
In particular, a favorable fiscal system has been created. The value added tax rate was reduced to 12%. The income of foreign investors in the form of dividends on shares is exempted from income tax for a period of three years. A strict ban on the introduction of new or harsher sanctions in the tax and customs legislation has been established.
Foreign trade is also being liberalized. In particular, customs duties on raw materials and goods of more than 7,000 items have been canceled for investors. A simplified procedure for the customs processing has been introduced. The work on accession to the World Trade Organization is accelerating in order to develop new markets.
The system of executive power is being reformed, the bureaucracy is being reduced. 500 functions of the state to regulate business have been cancelled. Another 70 functions have been transferred to the private sector through public-private partnerships and outsourcing.
To date, 132 license and permit documents have already been canceled, 33 have been transferred to a notification form.
Most importantly, an integrated system of work with investors has been introduced. The Ministry of Investments, Industry and Trade has established a system to assist investors at all stages - from project initiation to its launch on the "Single Window" principle.
The Foreign Investors’ Council under the President was launched to promptly address the issues of investment activity, establish a direct communication with the head of state.
Protection of the rights of business people has been strengthened. The conditions for foreign investors to purchase real estate, enter and leave Uzbekistan, as well as residence permit procedures have been radically simplified.
Administrative courts are entitled with significant powers in the field of judicial remedy for investors. From now on, entrepreneurs and investors do not need to prove the legitimacy of their claims in court, on the contrary, now government agencies will be required to prove the legality of their decisions. Any arising uncertainties will be resolved in favor of investors. This year, for the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, the activities of the International Commercial Court will be established.
Created opportunities and guarantees has given their result. In one year alone, more than 40,000 new industrial enterprises were created in the country, the volume of attracted foreign investment reached $10 billion, an increase of 3 times compared to 2017.
The President noted that this work will be continued at an accelerated pace. Its legal foundations are further strengthened in the updated Constitution, which has been submitted to a nationwide referendum in the coming days. In particular, the state assumes obligations to ensure a favorable investment and business climate, the inviolability of property, the development of market relations, the creation of conditions for fair competition, and the independence of the judiciary.
The President in his speech focused on new opportunities for expanding cooperation between Uzbekistan and foreign investors.
The first is the green economy. In our country, with the participation of prestigious international companies, projects for the construction of solar and wind power plants are being implemented. This year alone, more than 2,000 megawatts of capacity will be commissioned, and next year - 8,000 megawatts.
"Green economy" opens up new areas of industry. This means that investors will have the opportunity to invest $8 billion.
The second direction is public-private partnership. As a result of reforms, private investments are actively flowing into previously “closed” areas. For instance, there are ample opportunities for the private sector in the aviation industry, which was previously considered 100 % state-owned. Along with this, in such rapidly developing areas as IT, tourism, education, medicine, Uzbekistan is becoming a regional hub, which also opens up a wide road for investment.
This year, with the assistance of international financial institutions, separate programs have been developed in the field of public-private partnerships totaling $14 billion. These programs cover such important spheres for the state as transport, public utilities, water, and healthcare.
The third direction is the privatization of state property. This year, the program “one thousand +one thousand + forty” has been adopted. This means that one thousand enterprises with a state share and one thousand properties owned by the state will be put up for public auction, 40 enterprises will hold an IPO.
The fourth is industrial development. At present, the textile, leather and footwear industries, the production of building materials, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering have a sufficient raw material base and qualified personnel. In these areas, there are all prerequisites for increasing production and exports by 2 times. In this regard, it is necessary to establish cooperation with large brands, to develop foreign markets, innovations and modern technologies.
The fifth possibility is cooperation with neighboring countries. Joint investment funds are being created, major regional projects in the fields of industry, energy, transport and water management are being implemented. We should continue to establish cooperative ties in industry and the agricultural sector on the principle of complementarity of our economies.
The President of our country expressed Uzbekistan’s readiness to create the necessary legal guarantees for investors, separate technology parks and industrial zones, and provide additional benefits.
“I am convinced that the upcoming negotiations and meetings will allow you to see the endless opportunities for business in New Uzbekistan. In our country you will find everything you need for business - peace, stability, a favorable investment climate and reliable guarantees. I am sure that New Uzbekistan will become the best country for your business activities and leave a bright mark on it,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev has said.
During the session, high-level speakers made statements, they shared their vision of the prospects for investing in Uzbekistan.
The panel discussions of the forum will cover such topics as the risks of a global economic recession, modern monetary policy, trade finance, infrastructure development, digitalization of the economy, investment in transport and alternative energy. A particular attention will be paid to studying the experience of creating international financial centers, transforming state-owned enterprises, developing agriculture, healthcare, education, tourism and e-commerce.
As part of the forum, foreign partners will be presented with the investment potential of the regions of Uzbekistan and over 160 large projects. The investment and trade agreements will be signed.
The Tashkent International Investment Forum ends its work on April 28.