September 24, 2012
Last week Tashkent hosted perhaps the largest international conference on small business in the history of independent Uzbekistan. Foreign experts and businessmen returned home, each with their own impressions of the domestic small business. The views were different, but all noted that the government’s aspiration to facilitate conditions for entrepreneurs and serious work done in the country to improve conditions for running business. Hardly started, the three-day small business conference had already set a new trend for such international business forums in the country. The first two days, experts and entrepreneurs from 45 countries have visited a number of small businesses, as well as colleges, which train future professionals in leading cities of Samarqand, Bukhoro and Tashkent. And only on the third day the guests, full of emotions and impressions of what they had seen, sat for a discussion of global trends in the small business and the experience of Uzbekistan in this direction. As representatives of business circles themselves noted, this form of conferences is very effective, because they first had the opportunity to get closely acquainted with the work of entrepreneurs in the country, talk to them, to examine the legal framework for the protection of the business and how it is implemented in practice. This is particularly important in the context of the fact that many of the guests were for the first time in the country, and before drawing conclusions about the conference, they had to see themselves the reforms conducted in the private sector. The fact that the first two days hadn’t passed in vain, became clear by the comments and express interviews given by its participants. Today, in a global market and common process of economic development it is difficult to surprise the experts from around the world whose main task is to predict in advance and anticipate market opportunities in the years ahead. However, the path traversed by the country for a little over 20 years, from the planned economy with government diktat toward an open market economy, effective and, most importantly, open for further improvement in the current conditions its own development model, of course, aroused great interest among the experts. This was also addressed by President Islam Karimov in his welcoming speech at the conference. “We are very interested in the wealth of experience gained over the centuries in the developed and developing countries, where the share of this sector accounts for about 80% of gross domestic product, and at least 70% of the working population. It is extremely important for us. It gives me great satisfaction to see in this room our foreign guests. Your participation in the conference, your reports to the plenary and breakout sessions, your close relationships with Uzbek counterparts, trips, visits to enterprises, discussion and exchange of views, all this can not but enrich and diversify our forum and, I hope, justify your expectations,” said the head of state. Today it is really hard to overestimate, especially in Uzbekistan, the vital role played by small business and private enterprise in providing employment and income growth. Speakers repeatedly expressed an idea that the global market is now at a stage of continuous vibration. The situation is changing so rapidly that many of the large industrial enterprises simply do not have time to get tuned to market demands. As a result this often leads to reduction in income, production and employment, in major economic indicators in the developed countries of Europe and Americas. In such circumstances, small business becomes one of the main mechanisms for responding to the downturn, in response to market volatility for its flexibility, mobility and adaptability to any conditions. In 2005-2011, Uzbek economy opened more than 5 million new jobs, of which 60% in the small business and private entrepreneurship, which currently account for over 75% of the total employed population. These figures clearly reflect the significant role it has taken today so unjustly called ‘small’ business, which has long become a powerhouse of the national system. We shouldn’t forget about one very important point that today small business is actually responsible for the establishment of the fundamental basis of a democratic state and society, which is the middle class, being a driving force behind the active promotion of the country\'s progress and democratic reforms, and its future. Perhaps that was the key issue in the questions of foreign participants they asked local experts from: where is Uzbekistan moving to? What to expect from the country, the government and society in the future? As Islam Karimov replied this question openly and emotionally. “Often during conversations with our foreign guests, especially those who wish to do business in Uzbekistan, and, of course, politicians and diplomats, they first of all wondering what kind of society Uzbekistan is building? What goals it has set itself? And to what extent can we be sure, are convinced that Uzbekistan is develop in the same direction as the rest developed democratic world. “I always say in this case, look at it with my own eyes, by visiting one of our new colleges or lyceums, you will see that the future of Uzbekistan is born there, a new generation that thinks very differently. They do not know what the Soviet system was like. For 21 years we are developing, no one is dependent, and basing on our national interests. These are free people, free-thinking people who believe in themselves, and most importantly, have long gotten rid of the ideology of the former regime. Those days are long gone. At those times we all thought that on the top there is the Secretary General and he knows all about everything. Indeed, with such thinking, of course, we could not develop. I would say the Soviet Union collapsed because he could not develop further. The system could no longer exist. We had to evolve as the world evolves, the democratic world does. And we will develop in this direction,” the President Uzbekistan underscored.

Uzbekistan Today newspaper


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