Presentation of the investment potential and prospects for the development of the capital market in Uzbekistan takes place in US
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) - On 18 July 2019, a delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan headed by Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov held in Washington DC a presentation of the investment potential and prospects for the development of the capital market in Uzbekistan.
According to the Embassy of Uzbekistan, the event was attended by representatives of official, expert, business circles, including portfolio investors, heads of companies and financial and banking structures, the media and international institutions.
During the presentation by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulaziz Kamilov and the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of Oliy Majlis Sodik Safoev, the participants were provided with detailed information on the implementation of the Country Development Strategy, socio-political and socio-economic reforms, foreign policy priorities and prospects for bilateral Uzbek-American relations.
The presentation included Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States Lisa Curtis, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells; and also Chairman of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC) Carolyn Lamm.
In her speech, Lisa Curtis said that over the past 2.5 years Uzbekistan has positioned itself as a source of change in the region, which is being revived as a true crossroads of trade and transit. She noted that the United States officially declared its commitment to deepening bilateral cooperation with Uzbekistan during the official visit of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the United States in May 2018, and the parties are working tirelessly to multiply the results of this historic event.
According to a representative of the US administration, transformation and change in Uzbekistan have revived regional cooperation. As an example, there are plans for the second consultative meeting of the heads of state of Central Asia in Tashkent this autumn.
Lisa Curtis said that Washington welcomes changes in the republic in the economic and judicial spheres, including the accession of Uzbekistan to the Geneva Conventions in the field of protection of intellectual rights. This step, as noted by the representative of the White House, will certainly increase the competitiveness of the Uzbek economy and its attractiveness for business and investment. A successful example of this was the first certified trade mission under the auspices of the US Department of Commerce, which included a number of Fortune 500 companies.
In conclusion, Liza Curtis said that despite the many challenges and difficulties with each step on the path of reforms, Uzbekistan is increasingly approaching the realization of its full potential as a “regional economic power”. "The United States is firm in supporting the independence and sovereignty of Uzbekistan and is eagerly awaiting partnership in order to achieve such a bright future," the White House spokeswoman said.
Alice Wells focused on the role of the republic in the processes of economic development in Central Asia. In her opinion, in the center of the course conducted by Tashkent in this direction lies the expansion of cooperation with Afghanistan, and support for deepening the country’s integration with the region. To implement this task, the Government of Uzbekistan is taking both practical and diplomatic steps, she said. The representative of the State Department considered the practical measures: the intensification of business ties between the business communities of the two countries, support for infrastructure development in Afghanistan, and the organization of training for Afghan youth in the city of Termez. In turn, diplomatic measures constitute the launch of the negotiation process, which will set standards for friendly bilateral relations for the entire region and turn Afghanistan into an integral part of Central and South Asia.
Referring to the current level of Uzbek-American relations, Alice Wells noted that "the prospects for cooperation between the two countries have no borders." The US is ready to achieve concrete results in expanding cooperation with Uzbekistan “as quickly as possible.” The administration is ready to be as responsive as possible to the reform agenda of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. She stressed that today the dialogue between Tashkent and Washington is developing in such key areas as trade and investment, education, cultural and humanitarian ties.
Alice Wells separately highlighted the progress made in strengthening partnerships between Uzbekistan and the state of Mississippi.
“Over the past year, we have witnessed a significant increase in Uzbek-Mississippi relations, partnership is developing between defense ministries, universities, business representatives, the first in the Congress“ Focus on Uzbekistan ”was created with the participation of congressmen from this state, the historic visit of Governor Phil Bryant was organized” - she said.
In conclusion, Alice Wells stressed that the US administration will support the further expansion of the dialogue "between nations, governments, businesses of the two countries." The ultimate goal of Washington, as stated by the State Department spokesman, is “to restart and in every possible way expand the historical partnership with Uzbekistan.”
Carolyn Lamm told about the measures taken by the AUCC in the field of development of trade and investment cooperation between Uzbekistan and the United States. Carolyn Lamm informed the event participants in detail about large-scale reforms implemented in the country aimed at creating the most favorable conditions for foreign investors, including: liberalization of monetary policy, launching free economic zones, supporting competition, and improving legislation.
According to Carolyn Lamm, the cornerstone of the reforms that will significantly increase the interest of foreign businesses in Uzbekistan is the adoption of the Law on Countering Corruption and the May presidential decree in this direction, which also approved the corresponding state program for 2019-2020. The Chairman of the AUCC believes that these documents will stimulate the flow of both direct and portfolio investment from the United States to the republic.
Carolyn Lamm underlined that in the first year of the creation of the AUCC in 1993 there were only 3 members, and in recent years their number reached 39 companies. According to the head of the AUCC, this is evidence of the growing interest of American business in Uzbekistan.
After the presentations, panel discussions were held on the topics “Improving the legal framework for regulating capital markets: rights, responsibilities and guarantees for protecting investors” and “Attracting US portfolio investors to Uzbekistan”. Members of the delegation of Uzbekistan, the Minister of Justice Ruslanbek Davletov, the Director of the Capital Market Development Agency Atabek Nazirov and the Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade Laziz Kudratov, spoke at them. From the American side, partners in the panel discussions were partners of the international law firm Baker McKenzie, Thomas Firestone, and the consulting company Macro-Advisory, J.P. Nutkin.
In the framework of the discussions, measures taken in Uzbekistan in the area of supporting investors, strengthening the legislative framework in this area, as well as in the development of the capital market, were discussed. Presentation participants were informed in detail about the country’s regulatory and economic transformations, including by reducing the level of state intervention in the economy, actively fighting corruption, ensuring openness and transparency of government, creating favorable conditions for foreign investment, providing benefits and preferences for business activities.
American speakers praised the ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan aimed at ensuring the sustainable development of the country, liberalizing the economy and improving the business climate, and supporting investors and business initiatives.
In particular, according to Jay Natkin, assigning Uzbekistan the ratings of leading agencies S&P, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s for the first time in the country’s history will be an important factor in attracting foreign funding. Along with this, the partner of Macro-Advisory emphasized the relevance of measures taken by the Government of Uzbekistan in the development of the capital market, increasing efficiency in managing state-owned companies, and increasing the share of private investment. In his opinion, the measures taken will allow the republic to expand cooperation with large portfolio investors.
Thomas Fireston noted that the last two years, tangible practical measures have been taken in the republic to eliminate the existing problems in corruption, as well as to increase the effectiveness of the legislative base in order to ensure the attractiveness of the country for foreign business. Legislation such as the Law “On Public-Private Partnership” is crucial in establishing trust and mutually beneficial relations between the state and foreign business.
Following the presentation, bilateral working negotiations were held with individual participants of the event, and prospects for cooperation were discussed. An agreement was reached to hold an additional round of discussions at the investment forum, scheduled to be held in New York on 22 July 2019. The companies participating in the presentation are invited to the annual Uzbek-American business forum to be held in Washington in October.