Breaking News

New Uzbekistan: looking to the future

New Uzbekistan: Looking to the Future

They say that big things can be seen from a distance. In the series of everyday big and small events, we sometimes do not have enough time to properly appreciate their significance for further development. These are like strokes or pieces of a mosaic, from which the overall picture is formed over the years. And only after a certain time, perhaps not we ourselves, but our descendants will understand the importance and significance of these events, which seem everyday to us today.

There is a common expression that says, God forbid you live in an era of change. You can understand where it came from: most people are internally wary of sudden changes in their usual and measured life, expecting dangers and problems from them. Maybe it’s just a fear of not fitting into new conditions, of not being able to adapt and meet new, often increased demands? Maybe a bird in the hand is better than a pie in the sky?

But, on the other hand, one cannot help but understand that the lack of desire for something new, for progress, leads to stagnation, when those around you move forward, but you remain in your previous positions and without any special prospects. And if this is not so tragic for an individual, or even hundreds and thousands of people, then if we talk, for example, about a country, it will quickly lag behind other states in development and will not be able to provide a decent standard of living for the population.

We can agree that no one needs drastic changes, for example, a revolution, but the evolutionary path of development through consistent, targeted, and most importantly, effective reforms is a pattern confirmed by the history of mankind.

This is exactly the path of development that Uzbekistan has chosen. Transformations ensure the development of the national economy, making it possible to solve social problems and improve the standard of living of the population. In particular, political reforms improve the system of public administration, ensure the country’s worthy place in the international arena, and maintain peace and tranquility against the backdrop of armed conflicts and social upheavals in individual states. Economic reforms have made it possible to create conditions for the modernization and development of the economy and income growth at all levels. Social reforms have provided solutions to issues of improving the quality of life of Uzbek citizens and support for socially vulnerable segments of the population.

On the basis of this, the continuous process of reform continues, since areas in need of further improvement always appear, issues whose solutions require time itself.

We are busy with creative work to build New Uzbekistan. The country’s leadership has clearly outlined the tasks that need to be solved in the near future, in the medium and long term.

It is significant that the full panorama of development consists of individual events, each of which is important in that it aims at the further progress of the country.

Interest in cooperation with Uzbekistan is growing

Having enshrined in Article 18 of the updated Constitution the provision that the Republic of Uzbekistan is pursuing a peaceful foreign policy aimed at the comprehensive development of bilateral and multilateral relations with states and international organizations, our country reinforces it with concrete deeds, effectively cooperating with many countries.

First of all, we can highlight interaction with the CIS countries, with which it has developed to one degree or another over many decades, including on the basis of common economic ties, and in the post-Soviet space – on the basis of mutually beneficial cooperation between the newly independent states. Within the framework of the Commonwealth, Uzbekistan constantly initiates new joint projects.

In particular, in October last year, at the regular meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed organizing a conference of leading analytical centers and experts from the Commonwealth countries to develop a new long-term multilateral agenda for joint actions, noted the importance of the speedy formation of a full-fledged free trade zone in the CIS without exceptions and restrictions, advocated the development of a Set of additional measures to stimulate mutual investments and promote projects, as well as holding the Forum of Industrial Cooperation and Innovative Developments of the CIS Countries, initiated the preparation of an updated Cooperation Program in the field of food security and an Agreement on the main directions of cooperation in the agro-industrial complex. The head of Uzbekistan also spoke in favor of preparing a roadmap to enhance interregional cooperation, outlined specific measures to strengthen transport connectivity and increase passenger and freight traffic.

Along with interaction within the CIS, our country actively cooperates with the member states of the Commonwealth on a bilateral basis. Positive dynamics in trade turnover with the Russian Federation continues. Joint projects in industry, energy, transport, chemical and pharmaceutical industries are being successfully implemented. Cooperation ties are actively developing both at the interstate level and between regions. Based on the results of the third Forum of Interregional Cooperation held in Kazan last October alone, agreements and contracts worth $3.5 billion were signed.

While maintaining mutually beneficial cooperation with countries with which trade and economic relations have been maintained for many decades, Uzbekistan actively interacts with other states. A striking example here is our country’s cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, with which there has been a powerful breakthrough in bilateral relations in recent years. According to the Center for Economic Research and Reforms, in recent years, the volume of Chinese investments in the economy of Uzbekistan has increased fivefold, the number of joint ventures has tripled, exceeding 2.4 thousand, and accumulated investments from China have reached $14 billion. At the end of 2023, China took first place among the countries that are trading partners of Uzbekistan in terms of trade turnover and imports and second place in terms of export volumes. Over the past seven years, Uzbekistan’s trade turnover with China has almost tripled: from 4.8 billion to 13.7 billion dollars; the leaders of the two countries have set a goal – to increase the annual mutual trade turnover to 20 billion dollars. Currently, important projects in the field of energy, including renewable energy, automotive, and electrical industries are being implemented in Uzbekistan through Chinese investments.

For the further development of the national economy, our country is actively using any opportunities to expand and deepen trade and economic ties with other states within the framework of international organizations and programs.

For example, the Organization of Turkic States has become an effective platform for the development of cooperation. At the regular meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the UTG, held at the beginning of November last year in Astana, along with others, the issue of intensifying the creation of the Turkic Development Bank with its location in Tashkent was discussed, which will contribute to the expansion of industrial cooperation between the countries included in the organization and the implementation large joint investment projects. Having fully supported the practical work on organizing the Research Center for Trade Cooperation of Turkic States, the President of Uzbekistan drew attention to the need to effectively use its capabilities to eliminate barriers to trade, widely introduce new mechanisms for increasing export and import volumes, and develop e-commerce platforms. The relevance of the development and diversification of global logistics chains and transport corridors and the formation of a unified transit network was emphasized. In this context, the head of state supported measures to expand the potential of the Middle Transport Corridor, the development of additional multi-sectoral directions, in particular corridors passing through the OTG countries to the markets of China, South Asia and Europe, as well as the digitalization of transport services. It was proposed to establish the Council of Railway Departments of the Organization of Turkic States and locate the directorate of this structure in Uzbekistan.

Soon, Shavkat Mirziyoyev took part in the first summit of the UN Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) in Baku. The President of Uzbekistan noted the importance of projects implemented within the program to expand practical cooperation in the areas of trade, communications, transport and logistics, digitalization, energy, water resources, ecology, gender equality and others, the adoption of strategies for trade facilitation and innovative development and introduced a number of initiatives to further strengthening of regional cooperation within the framework of SPECA.

In order to stimulate intraregional trade, the head of state noted the need to prepare a Joint Action Plan, which provides for the introduction of world best practices in eliminating existing barriers and harmonizing measures for technical regulation of export-import operations. The adoption of such measures, according to the leader of Uzbekistan, will allow increasing trade turnover in the SPECA region from the current 52 billion to 100 billion dollars by 2030, and the share of industrial products in its structure to 70 percent. The importance of creating and launching the SPECA Trust Fund next year to support large projects in the areas of green economy, innovation, high technology, logistics, alternative energy, smart agriculture, and the creation of modern social infrastructure was also emphasized.

Along with these examples, we can note the focused work of our country’s leadership to implement one of the priority goals of the Development Strategy, in particular to further expand existing ties with partners in South Asia, the Near, Middle East and Africa – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar , Pakistan, India, Iran, including trade and economic ones.

“President Shavkat Mirziyoyev opened the country to the outside world and carried out large-scale reforms in various areas,” says French senator Andre Richard. — In the context of ongoing geopolitical uncertainty in the international arena, the policy of Uzbekistan deserves special attention. Tashkent is independent and pursues a balanced foreign policy. Thanks to this approach of the country’s leader, a completely new atmosphere of friendship and trust was formed in Central Asia. This is a diplomatic success for the President of Uzbekistan.

Diplomatic ties are constantly expanding and deepening not only with those countries that we have indicated. And here one can ask the question: why are more and more states developing cooperation with Uzbekistan, in which not so long ago they showed no particular interest? There are many factors. But, as many international experts confirm, the leadership of Uzbekistan not only declares, but also pursues a peaceful foreign policy, ensures social stability, achieves growth of the national economy through effective reforms, clearly outlines in the Development Strategy the goals that the country strives for, and initiates promising projects, inviting foreign investors to participate in them on terms of mutual benefit, providing them with comprehensive support at all levels, including the state.

Keep up with the times

The development of international cooperation also has a positive effect on interaction in the implementation of promising investment projects in Uzbekistan.

“The new Uzbekistan has become an attractive and reliable partner for the leading countries of the world, and Central Asia has turned into a region of strategic opportunities for international investors,” says Member of the European Parliament Fabio Castaldo. 

Indeed, projects of a global scale are being implemented in the country. At the end of December 2021, the opening ceremony of the Uzbekistan GTL plant took place in the Guzar district of the Kashkadarya region. Speaking at the event, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that the construction of such a huge complex was, of course, a direct result of the policy pursued in recent years to develop the domestic industry at a qualitatively new level. The policy that is determined by the general direction of large-scale reforms carried out in Uzbekistan.

Among the main directions is following the requirements that are put forward by the current rapidly changing times, when issues constantly arise on the international agenda, without solving which, any country can lose its position, and its economy can become uncompetitive.

We cannot ignore the global trend aimed, for example, at limiting harmful emissions into the atmosphere and the transition to renewable energy sources.

The project with the Uzbekistan GTL plant is indicative in many ways. This is the largest enterprise in the petrochemical industry not only in our country, but also in the entire region, which will process 3.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The point is the products manufactured on the basis of unique GTL technology. In particular, the jet fuel produced here is cleaner and of higher quality compared to products from other manufacturers and is intended for modern aircraft, and diesel fuel meets the highest standards – no less than Euro-6.

The plant fully meets the trends of transition to a green economy. Its products comply with the highest international environmental requirements, norms and standards. When using GTL fuel, emissions of harmful substances are 40 percent lower than with traditional fuel.

According to experts and specialists, the demand for products manufactured using GTL technology is growing. Taking into account the increase in prices for traditional fuels and the spread of green certificates, this demand will increase, which means that Uzbekistan GTL products, the range of which is planned to be expanded, have good competitive advantages.

Continuing the topic, let’s look at one more event. In January of this year, during the business program of his state visit to the PRC, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited the headquarters and technology center of the leading Chinese company BYD in Shenzhen, which has become the world leader in the production of hybrid and electric vehicles. The head of state, together with the leadership of the Chinese company, took part in the launch ceremony of a project to assemble 50 thousand hybrid and electric cars in the Jizzakh region.

This project also needs to be viewed with a long-term view. Yes, the domestic automotive industry still needs to do a lot to satisfy domestic demand for cars in general and increase exports. They have also been given a specific goal – to increase the production of passenger cars in the country to one million per year. But one cannot ignore global trends, in line with which leading automakers are reducing or even stopping the production of cars with internal combustion engines and switching to mass production of electric vehicles. In addition, many countries impose restrictions on the use of cars with internal combustion engines and provide certain benefits and preferences to manufacturers and owners of electric vehicles. As the President said, if domestic enterprises hesitate to master the production of electric vehicles, then in the future it will be difficult for them to compete in the market. Moreover, with the development of the appropriate infrastructure for charging electric vehicles, the demand for them in the country is growing very quickly, and the fight against reducing harmful emissions, the main source of which is motor vehicles with internal combustion engines, is extremely relevant for large cities of the country and, first of all, for Tashkent.

So the BYD project to assemble hybrid and electric cars is the first major step in cooperation with the world’s leading manufacturer of green cars, which in the future will practically replace cars that run on traditional fuels. And it is important to see this perspective today.

The same can be said about green energy. In recent years, an obvious breakthrough in this direction has been noticeable in Uzbekistan. An important and promising solution is to use the huge potential of solar and wind energy that Uzbekistan has. It requires significant funds and effort. Therefore, the country’s leadership has taken many measures to attract the attention of large foreign investors to the implementation of green energy projects in Uzbekistan. To do this, it was necessary to create an appropriate legislative framework practically from scratch, to interest foreign investors by providing them with certain benefits and preferences.

But, as they say, the game is worth the candle. Last year, two solar photovoltaic power plants with a capacity of 100 MW, built in the Navoi and Samarkand regions, generated about 580 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is potentially enough to meet the annual consumption of approximately 240.4 thousand households.

The landscape in the Tamdyn district of the Navoi region was changed by the giant turbines of a wind power plant with a total capacity of 500 MW, the first stage of which with 100 megawatts was put into operation at the end of last year and in a short time produced almost 31.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equal to the monthly consumption of 155 thousand households. The next capacity of 200 MW of this wind power plant will be put into operation before the end of this year, and in 2025 the wind farm will reach full capacity.

If in the Tamdyn region wind turbines with a height of 97 meters and a length of each blade of 77 meters are installed, then in the Peshkun and Gijduvan regions of the Bukhara region, where two more wind power plants with a capacity of 500 megawatts each are being built, the installed turbines are even higher – 100 meters, and the length of each blade reaches 84 meters. The first capacity of 400 MW is scheduled to be put into operation by the end of this year, and when the wind farms are launched at full capacity, they will produce up to 3.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. It should also be noted that this will allow saving 1.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year and preventing emissions into the atmosphere of 1.5 million tons of harmful gases that could be formed when generating the same amount of electricity at thermal power plants.

This is just the start of a grandiose and quite ambitious program in the field of green energy in Uzbekistan. By the way, it did not go unnoticed at the international level. For example, the media of many countries widely covered the ceremony that took place on the eve of this year to connect five solar photovoltaic stations to the network in Samarkand, Jizzakh, Surkhandarya, Bukhara and Kashkadarya regions, as well as a wind power plant in Navoi region with a total capacity of 2,400 megawatts. At this event, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted the importance of green generation for guaranteed and stable supply of electricity to the population and the country’s economy, mitigating the negative impact of climate change, widespread use of the huge potential of solar and wind energy in the country, production of export-oriented products using green energy, and development of other industries , focused on joint production with foreign colleagues of equipment and components for solar and wind power plants, their construction, repair and maintenance.

This year, together with investors and world-famous companies from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, and France, work is underway on a dozen more projects for the construction of solar and wind power plants and energy storage systems. Already this year, it is planned to increase the capacity of solar power plants to 2.6 gigawatts, wind farms to 900 megawatts, and launch energy storage devices with a capacity of 400 megawatts.

In general, by 2030 it is planned to increase the capacity of green power plants to 27 gigawatts, which, along with increasing electricity production, will annually save up to 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas and reduce emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere by 34 million tons.

“Uzbekistan is making a gradual transition to a circular economy, the main advantages of which are saving resources, reducing waste, reducing the carbon footprint, and improving the well-being of the population,” notes the Spanish publication El Mundo Financiero. “These and other actions will allow the country to become a leader in green growth in Central Asia and help move the entire region into a green future.

The results achieved are strong evidence that Uzbekistan does not intend to lag behind the main world trends and requirements of the time, taking into account the prospects for further development of the national economy and improving the well-being and quality of life of the population.

A picture of creative work

An important result of the reforms carried out in the country can be considered the grandiose transformations that took place in a relatively short period of time throughout the country. Not so long ago, everything revolved around the capital, and attention was paid to the regions, as they say, on a residual basis. Now the situation has changed dramatically. Of course, the standard of living in the regions still differs from the capital, but one can see the dynamics with which infrastructure is developing almost everywhere, modern industrial enterprises, social facilities, and housing are being built.

Local authorities, who are better familiar with the situation in cities and regions, are given considerable opportunities to determine the paths of development of regions and cities themselves, rather than wait for instructions from the so-called center. But the pace of this development and the increase in living standards, as is known, depend on funding, including how much income will be received in specific territories.  

 That is why the Development Strategy pays special attention to this point and sets a specific goal – to increase the volume of the regional economy by 1.4-1.6 times, ensuring balanced development of the regions, accelerated development of industry and entrepreneurship. Five-year regional programs developed in the context of all regions and cities of the republic are aimed at this.

The implementation of these programs is in the spotlight of the head of state, who constantly travels to the regions to personally familiarize himself and evaluate the progress and results of the transformations, to find out the opinions of ordinary people about how their lives are changing.

Each trip of the President to the regions demonstrates how reforming economic sectors has a positive impact on improving the level of well-being of the local population.

For example, the Andijan region is rightfully considered the birthplace of the domestic automotive industry, an industry that arose in Uzbekistan after the country gained independence. There are 12 large and over 160 medium and small enterprises operating in the region producing cars. They employ 17 thousand people with a good source of income. Their number will grow as new projects are implemented aimed at expanding the production of spare parts and components on a cooperative basis.

In recent years, the country has been doing a lot of work to create and develop industrial zones in the regions. During a trip to the Andijan region in mid-February of this year, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited the enterprises of the Andijan industrial hub, created in the Andijan region. Here, on an area of ​​195 hectares, more than a dozen projects have been implemented in such industries as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and building materials. This year, ten more projects worth more than $150 million are planned to be launched in the industrial zone. And this will increase the industrial potential of the region, increase the output of in-demand products and provide employment for another two thousand Andijan residents.

To further grow the regional economy, the Andijan region, following the recommendations and instructions of the head of state, strives to attract foreign investors. Agreements worth three billion dollars have been reached with investors from China alone, and this year it is possible to attract another billion dollars of investment. To this end, it is planned to create a Silk Road SEZ on 218 hectares in the Andijan region, where foreign investors will be provided with tax and customs benefits and the appropriate infrastructure will be created for the implementation of promising projects. 

In cooperation with Chinese investors, 26 projects worth $1.7 billion are being implemented in the region in the fields of energy, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, textile production, construction industry, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, education and infrastructure. They are aimed at the construction of mini-hydroelectric power plants, housing and recreational facilities, the production of electric buses and batteries for them, porcelain tiles and concrete panels, medicines, growing berries and other products. It will also provide employment to many local residents. In a conversation with the President of Uzbekistan, investors from the Middle Kingdom expressed interest in doing business in our country and noted good opportunities for this.

The head of state got acquainted with the specific results of the ongoing work on regional development at the end of February – beginning of March during a trip to the Khorezm region.

In recent years, thanks to reforms, this region has demonstrated active development. According to some data, if in 2017 the gross regional product was 12 trillion soums, and per capita income was only 6.7 million soums, now these figures have reached 37 trillion and 19 million soums, respectively. This was largely achieved due to an increase in the number of industrial enterprises from 20.2 thousand to 31 thousand and an increase in industrial production from 4.1 trillion to 18.3 trillion soums.

There are many examples of successfully implemented projects in different sectors of the economy. But the most striking of them is Khiva Cluster LLC. Its leadership skillfully took advantage of the opportunities that were created on the initiative of the head of state to organize cotton-textile clusters, establishing all links from the cultivation of raw cotton to the production of finished products with high added value. Last year, almost 20 thousand tons of raw cotton were grown here. At the same time, cotton was grown on 1,545 hectares using drip irrigation, which significantly saved water for irrigation.

The President got acquainted with the activities of the final link – the textile enterprise of the cluster, where, on the basis of modern equipment, a capacity has been created to produce seven thousand tons of yarn, four thousand tons of knitted fabric, 10 million sewing and knitted products per year. All products comply with international standards and are fully exported. The export potential of the enterprise is about $15 million per year.

In total, from 2018 to 2023, the cluster implemented projects worth $105 million and created an export potential of $50 million per year. They do not limit themselves only to the cultivation and deep processing of cotton; together with other enterprises, they have established the production of oil, soap, the production of eggs, dairy products and even shoes.

The cluster has become a real agro-industrial center. The President got acquainted with his plans for the future. First of all, they are, of course, associated with increasing the production of raw cotton and obtaining finished products from it with high added value. Along with this, projects are being developed to process other types of agricultural products, develop the production of various popular products and goods, in particular to localize the production of light-duty trucks. It is important that, due to promising projects in all areas of the cluster, it is planned to increase the number of jobs from the current 10 thousand to 30 thousand. This means that in the future the cluster will help improve the well-being and standard of living of another 20 thousand fellow countrymen.

Similar examples can be found in almost all regions of the country, which are transforming literally before our eyes. Along with this, and the President also speaks about this during his trips to the regions, many of them still have many untapped reserves for economic growth. Therefore, the head of state instructed to identify growth points for all 208 districts and cities and prepare projects aimed at economic development and increasing the income of the population. This will set people up for creative work.

As the authors of the popular Indian newspaper “The Economic Times” note, one of the key principles of economic development of Uzbekistan is widespread and parallel regional development, based on an in-depth analysis of the socio-economic situation of the country’s regions, including the study of the resource base, production, transport and logistics potential, demand for products with high added value.

“Uzbekistan is a country that, against the backdrop of economic turbulence in the world, continues to demonstrate stable growth, gradually turning into a real investment hub in Central Asia,” the publication reports. — Consistent reforms carried out in the country and created comfortable conditions for doing business, including significant benefits and preferences, as well as guaranteed protection of rights, stimulate the interest of local and foreign investors.

The events mentioned above seem to be diverse at first glance. But they are united by one thing – they are aimed at further development, taking their place in the overall picture of the creative work that Uzbekistan is conducting under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The article has been written by Utkir Rakhmat.