March 18, 2014
Future in Our Hands
France is an amazing country, not only the world\'s major tourist destination, and Paris a capital of high fashion and cosmetics industry, but also home to modern aircraft and automotive, high-tech industries and technological agricultural sector.

Today, however, the French economy, the second largest in Europe after the German, has been experiencing difficulties, like the entire eurozone, associated with the fall in industrial production and prolonged recession. The key to addressing this issue is the search for new foreign partners and the expansion of existing relations with friendly countries, including Uzbekistan.

France is one of Uzbekistan\'s major economic partners in the European Union. By the end of 2013, the bilateral trade turnover increased by 15.8 percent to reach 323 million US dollars. 17 companies with French capital currently operate in Uzbekistan, along with accredited representative offices of nine firms and companies.

Perhaps the most illustrious example of cooperation between Uzbekistan and France is the aviation industry. Airbus, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, the headquarters of which is located in a suburb of Toulouse, has a longstanding partnership with the national company Uzbekistan Airways. In 2010-2011, a unique wide-scale project was implemented: Uzbekistan immediately purchased ten new medium-haul Airbus A-320s, which completely replaced the outdated Tu-154s and An-24s. Avionics quality, triple redundancy of all systems, reduced fuel consumption makes this aircraft both reliable and safe, and the most popular in a 5,000 km distance. It is this step that showed what direction the domestic air transportation opted for. If many airlines around the world prefer to save on passengers and purchase used planes, the government and the national air company have invested heavily in safety and procurement of new machinery.

The national airline received the first A320 in July 2010. Within a few days after its arrival from France, the airliner went into a regular flight to Baku. This suggests that the enormous work was done by both parties to prepare for the arrival of the flight personnel of new technology. For example, the aviation enterprise Uzbekistan Airways Technics received equipment for maintenance of this type of aircraft, and the employees have been trained abroad. For the first time, anew system of electronic documentation for crews and a communication system that allows pilots to contact the Tashkent Airport from anywhere in the world have been introduced at the flying squad A320. For a complete pilot training, in the NAC training center a modern trainer with model A320 cockpit was established. Airbus became a partner in another project implemented by Uzbekistan and South Korea. An international hub on the basis of Navoi airport in May 2009 began regular operation of two cargo aircraft A300-600 flying from Navoi to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The two nations cooperate in a project to create a biometric passport system in Uzbekistan. The French Oberthur Technologies SA not only introduced its solutions for civil registration, personalization of electronic passports, document verification, but also helped to modernize biometric passport issuing process. Now every new passport Uzbekistan equipped with a special electronic chip that contains personal information about the owner of biometrics - digital photo and fingerprints, hands, and setting the biographical data. This will increase the degree of protection against counterfeiting, to improve mechanisms of rapid and accurate identification at border crossings, improve the quality and efficiency of international air transport, as well as by saving time to create maximum comfort for passengers.

Representatives of the other tech giant - French Thales also plan to intensify cooperation with Uzbekistan. According to the company, they intend to expand interaction with Uzbekistan Airways and drafting a joint telecommunications satellite, as well as to participate in implementation of GSM 4G cellular operators in the country.

In oil and gas sector, the French company Technip completed engineering design of a unique plant for the production of synthetic fuels from methane produced Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex. The new plant will operate under the brand Oltin Yo\'l GTL (\"Golden Path GTL\"). It is assumed that in 2017 here in Uzbekistan first premium class synthetic fuel will be received. The company is focused on issue of the four kinds of products: aviation kerosene, fuel oil, small amount of liquefied gas and naphtha. When running at full capacity, the plant will produce environmentally friendly and highly effective products that will take its rightful place in the scale of further production growth in Uzbekistan due to the introduction of high-tech lines. French company Air Liquide is also working on issues of projects in the oil and gas sector. In March last year the Uzbekneftegaz and the French side signed a protocol on cooperation in the production of industrial gases. As the Air Liquide representatives said, they are interested in building a profile plant in Uzbekistan, as in the future the demand for industrial gases will rise steadily, particularly in the chemical, petrochemical and metallurgical industries.

Over the ten year-long partnership between the French General Directorate of Public Finance of the Ministry of Budget and the Ministry of Finance of Uzbekistan has been rather instrumental. In 2012, the two parties signed an agreement in Paris on cooperation for 2012-2014, which envisages that Uzbek finance professionals receive training and improve their skills at the National School of Public Finance. Within this document the French side assists the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance and the development of a number of financial management.

The ties in tourism actively develop. In recent years, Uzbekistan annually visited by about 15.000 French tourists, and that number could grow significantly. For example, the parties jointly hold master classes for local specialists of the service sector, representatives of museums, cultural sites. French experts are involved in reconstruction work and archaeological excavations of ancient monuments.

Representatives of the Agency for International Technical Cooperation (ADETEF) under the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry of France visited Uzbekistan last year, offered to help in development of mountain tourism in Chimgan, which is aptly nicknamed as the \"Uzbek Switzerland\". To do this, the agency is ready to allocate technical and grant assistance. A few days ago, the French Ambassador to Uzbekistan Jacques-Henry Heuls met with the leadership of the national airline and discussed the development of direct flights between Paris and major tourist cities of Uzbekistan, as well as the possibility of participation of French companies in the modernization of Uzbek airports.

And we should not forget about the French company Gerflor. It has equipped 55 children\'s sports facilities with high-quality modern artificial turf.

Uzbekistan and France now have a huge untapped potential for development. Many experts point out that if the economic cooperation on its scale at least equal to the cultural sphere, France is able to claim a place in the top five trade partners of our republic.

(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)


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