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Discovering the Trade and Business Opportunities in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, situated at the heart of Central Asia, boasts a diverse economy and a young population. With its historical ties to the ancient Silk Road, the country has a rich cultural heritage shaped by various ethnic groups over thousands of years. Today, Uzbekistan is the second largest economy in Central Asia and is striving to achieve upper-middle income status by 2030. The government is actively promoting private-sector-led growth and job creation by implementing significant reforms, encouraging competition, and eliminating dominance of state-owned firms.

Uzbekistan: A Snapshot

Let's start by examining some key facts about Uzbekistan in 2022:

  • Capital: Tashkent
  • Area: 448,978 sq km
  • Population: 36 million
  • Languages: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik, and others
  • Ethnic Groups: Uzbek, Tajik, Kazakh, Russian, Karakalpak, and others
  • Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 76 years (women)
  • GDP: $80.4 billion

History and Cultural Richness

The history and culture of Uzbekistan are incredibly diverse and vibrant. Being part of the ancient Silk Road, the country has been influenced by various civilisations, including Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Chinese, Russians, and Turkic tribes. This rich heritage is evident in Uzbek music, dance, painting, applied arts, language, cuisine, and clothing. The Uzbek people are known for their compassion and hospitality, and their way of life revolves around optimism, patience, and a strong sense of responsibility. Family plays a central role in Uzbekistan, with respect for elders and support for family members being common practices.

Economy and Trade Opportunities

The President of Uzbekistan envisions transforming the country into a developed nation through innovation and a world-class education system. Uzbekistan's strategic location and potential allow it to develop over 50 different types of industrial products, ranging from oil and gas to textiles and food.

Uzbekistan has made significant strides in improving its business environment, ranking among the top 20 "global improvers" in the World Bank's 2020 Doing Business report. The country has simplified export licensing procedures and implemented a "single window" mechanism for export-import operations, reducing paperwork preparation time. Furthermore, Uzbekistan is a member of the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), which facilitates trade by lowering tariffs and simplifying trading rules. It has also joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as an observer and is working towards full membership, aiming to create a common market and harmonise economic policies among its member countries.

Trade Facts and Opportunities

Uzbekistan's core agricultural products include milk, wheat, cotton, vegetables, and grapes, while its core industries encompass textiles, food processing, metallurgy, and mining. In 2021, Uzbekistan's total export value was $16.399 billion, with Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Russia being its primary export partners. On the import side, Uzbekistan imported goods worth $27.774 billion in 2021, with China, Russia, and South Korea being its main import partners.

The UK-Uzbek trade relationship has been flourishing, with total trade in goods and services amounting to £245 million in the four quarters leading up to Q4 2022. The UK primarily exports mechanical power generators, specialised machinery, and toilet & cleansing preparations to Uzbekistan, while importing non-ferrous metals, plastics in primary forms, and miscellaneous electrical goods from the country.

Uzbekistan's Economy in 2022

In 2022, Uzbekistan experienced a 5.7% GDP growth, driven by robust remittances, consumption, and exports. Non-gold exports increased significantly, led by textiles, nonferrous metals, fertilisers, and food, mainly due to strong growth in exports to Russia. Services exports also saw a substantial rise of 53%, particularly in transportation and tourism, with a notable increase in Russian tourists and immigrants.

The Future of Trade and Business with Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's dynamic economy, favourable location, and commitment to reforms present exciting trade and business opportunities. The country's participation in international organisations and openness to foreign observers ensure transparency and democratic conduct of elections. For investors and entrepreneurs seeking new markets and partnerships, Uzbekistan offers a promising destination with its rich cultural heritage, thriving private sector, and diverse economic potential.

As Uzbekistan strives to achieve its ambitious goals and continues its path towards progress, engaging in trade and business with this Central Asian nation can be both rewarding and mutually beneficial. The future is bright for those willing to explore and seize the potential opportunities that Uzbekistan has to offer.

Koyas Miah, International Trade Manager

About the author

Suffolk Chamber

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