EGF Eurasian politics researcher
In a recent letter to the European Geopolitical Forum, HE Vladimir Norov, the ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Belgium, highlighted the robust economic development his country has enjoyed since the turn of the millennium. In addition, he described government priorities for 2014 aimed at continuing the boom.
The list of economic accomplishments is diverse. Between 2000 and 2013, consumer spending increased by 9.5 times. There were 20 cars per 100 households in 2000, now there are 41.4. Total capital of commercial banks increased by 46 times over the period. Streamlining and simplifying regulations have led to a small business boom, and these businesses now account for 55.8 percent of GDP, compared to 31 percent in 2000. All in all, Uzbekistan can be proud of its achievements in the economic sphere, especially compared to the economic malaise that has engulfed much of the rest of the world over the past five years.
The government, however, is not sitting back. The ambassador described a comprehensive 2014 plan which included a particular focus on encouraging high-tech and modern industry. In order to fuel this ambition, the government is wooing foreign investment with free economic zones, continually simplifying and streamlining regulation, reducing taxes, and mounting an advertising campaign to raise awareness of the great success and opportunity in the country. That said, the country and region face some serious challenges, such as the security situation in Afghanistan and a restrictive energy and transit situation due to being land-locked. Furthermore, ecological concerns relating to the ‘tragedy’ of the Aral Sea will not disappear overnight. Given the impressive growth since 2000, however, Uzbekistan has reason to be hopeful for an even more prosperous future and chance to strengthen the country’s independence, sovereignty and regional role within a strategic environment open to both geopolitical competition and regional cooperation.
Letter to the European Geopolitical Forum by Ambassador Vladimir Norov, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Kingdom of Belgium
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