February 28, 2014
Crisis Barely an Obstacle for Business
Cozily nestled in the south-west of Europe, Spain has long been regarded as one of the world\'s major center of tourism.

However, in recent years, along with the beautiful scenery of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, the world’s biggest TV channels have been reporting on the crisis phenomena that have deeply affected one of the largest countries in Europe. Today, experts note a positive tendency in the Spanish economy, which has become possible due to active investment cooperation. Partnership with Uzbekistan, especially in the industrial sector, ranks among the most dynamically evolving trends.

As experts underline, the Uzbek-Spanish relations have a huge potential for enhancement, with hitherto insufficient level of trade and investment cooperation. Spain’s infrastructure system is one of the best in Europe today, ranging from high-speed trains, high-tech airports and highways, to the most advanced and environmentally friendly power networks. Uzbekistan, which has just embarked on developing these sectors, stakes on best practices that Spanish industrial giants are already passing on to domestic companies. Actually, these technological areas, though with complex and costly projects, have empowered and enhanced the bilateral cooperation in recent years.

This is the uniqueness of the relationship between the two countries: they have not just been pursuing the policy of increasing turnover through selling natural resources or finished goods, but have launched large investment and engineering projects which have already brought several domestic industries to a new level.

The launch of Central Asia’s first high-speed train Tashkent-Samarqand is perhaps the most striking example of this partnership. Spain has long been leading among European countries both in the total length of the existing high-speed railways, and in those being projected and constructed. Thus it is quite clear why Uzbekistan Railways State Joint Stock Railway Company (SSRC) has chosen the Spanish company of Talgo as its foreign partner in July 2009. At that time the parties signed a special memorandum of understanding on the implementation of joint projects and research in the field of high-speed rail passenger trains in Uzbekistan.

The Spanish side considerably assisted national railroad specialists in projecting and construction of the transport line with ever applied new technologies and innovative solutions. The entire railway infrastructure was completely upgraded and brought into line with international requirements and standards to ensure the efficient operation of the expressway. The work on the project took a bit more than two years, within which the local railway workers managed to fulfill an unprecedented work: to build the necessary infrastructure for the operation of advanced locomotives, build and reconstruct the railway and stations, two-sided barrier, and reequip the contact network.

As the second phase of the project Spain delivered two high-speed passenger trains Talgo-250 consisting of four head and eighteen passenger cars valued at ˆ38 million. They were symbolically named as Afrosiyob in honor of the famous ancient town in Samarqand region.

The first ‘Spanish ambler’ arrived in Tashkent in July 2011, while the second one came in December.

Significant financial cost of road construction has more than justified itself to date. The tourist flow into ancient Samarqand, the pearl of Uzbekistan, has increased considerably with the bigger share of foreign tourists, who often admire the Afrosiyob’s comfort. Nowadays, electrification and construction of high-speed rail continues at a fast pace. In the future the main line will reach out to Bukhoro and Khiva. Power is another important area of cooperation. The two sides work both on alternative energy sources, and on enhancing the traditional generation through the introduction of innovated equipment. A new 478 MW combined cycle gas turbine was launched at Navoi TPP on October 2012. The big project was funded by the Republican Fund for Reconstruction and Development, National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity and Uzbekenergo State Joint-Stock Company, and carried out by a consortium of investors including the Spanish Initek Energy and Turkish Chalik Energy. The Spanish company has undertaken project planning, support, orders, procurement and installation of the equipment, and the Turkish company was responsible for construction works.

As part of the construction the consortium engaged dozens of subcontractors. In different periods, it involved over a thousand skilled workers and experts. The project has turned into a pilot model of introduction of a completely different type of equipment at generating units of the country, and also initiated a large-scale national program on the upgrade of thermal power plants.

Installation of the second combined-cycle 450 MW plant is currently underway at Navoi TPP. The collaboration in alternative energy sources keeps pace with.

The country’s first solar power plant is expected to be built in Samarqand region in the coming years. The experience will be used in the future for the construction of similar facilities. Spanish experts helped the Uzbek partners to project the territory for building new stations and ensure their maximal effect. For instance, at the last year’s sixth meeting of the Asian Forum on Solar Energy in Tashkent CEO of Spanish company Solar Technology Advisors Jorge Serverta presented a roadmap of development of solar energy in Uzbekistan.

The experience of Spanish companies in road construction is in demand in Uzbekistan, as well. With the Pyrenees on its territory, the country’s relief is one of the most complicated in Europe, where mountains neighbor with valleys and ravines. That is why it developed the advanced technologies of construction and reconstruction of roads in difficult mountain conditions and uneven terrain. In 2012, the National Road Fund of Uzbekistan signed a contract with a consortium of the Spanish Korsan Corvo Construction SA and the Uzbek Elektrtarmoqqurilish to reconstruct the 58 km section of Tashkent-Osh highway that passes through the Kamchik pass. The latest advances and world-class quality standards are applied in its construction.

The road will resemble a layered cake with one meter thickness of the coating. The bottom two layers of the track will consist of sandy gravel and cement-treated gravel-sand mixture. The cement concrete pavement will be on top. As experts say, the road build by such a technology is expected to serve for at least 25 years. The project will not just expand the transport and transit capacity of the country, but also raise the tourist attraction of the Farghona Valley.

The interaction in the chemical industry is dynamically evolving. In 2007, one of the world\'s major chemical producers, the Spanish corporation of MAXAMCORP S.A.U. purchased a 49 % stake of MAXAM-CHIRCHIQ. This breathed new life into the company. In recent years the enterprise has taken a range of measures on extension of its production and introduction of modern, environmentally friendly and energy efficient equipment. For example, after the commissioning of the upgraded urea plant the output of finished products increased from 235 to 270 thousand tons per year. The scaled program on technological extension aimed at expansion and diversification of the export flow is underway. Today, the company exports to more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and others.

According to many Spanish and Uzbek experts, these projects are just a basis for future dynamic development. For now, we have to preserve the experience and properly maintain the current economic situation.

(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)


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