Distinguished Madam Renaud-Basso,
Distinguished Mr. Brunner,
Representatives of foreign governments, international organizations, and diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen!
We consider the fact that this year’s Meeting of the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development takes place in the ancient and unique Samarkand as an expression of high trust and respect for our country and our reforms.
Welcome to Uzbekistan!
I believe there is a profound symbolic meaning in the fact that the city of Samarkand was chosen as a venue for today’s conference.
For centuries this majestic city located at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road has been a center of trade, economic, cultural, scientific, and technological exchanges between the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, connecting East and West, North and South.
We are proud that this land has been a hotspot for shaping a dynamic culture of communication among various civilizations.
Today’s Conference, attended by over 2,500 guests from all regions of the world, will continue these noble traditions at a new phase, as well as strengthen the bridge of friendship and solidarity among our peoples.
In an era of ever-intensifying geopolitical tensions, open and close dialogues and further expansion of friendly relations are indispensable for all countries.
In this sense, it is of great significance that the main theme of today’s high-profile conference has been named “INVESTING IN RESILIENCE”.
You can all see that global economic problems are exacerbating.
Climate change and environmental risks are increasing, while natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce.
In such a complex situation, more investments in new technologies and projects are required so that today’s and future generations can pursue a decent life.
In this context, today’s important conference shall:
– bring multilateral and long-term relations among countries to a new level,
– further increase investments for the development of our economies,
– make an invaluable contribution to the progress of all member countries.
Uzbekistan hosted the meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in this format exactly 20 years ago.
At today’s conference, along with new guests, I see participants who were present at the previous meeting as well.
In this context, I would like to emphasize one point: TODAY’S UZBEKISTAN IS NOT YESTERDAY’S UZBEKISTAN.
The fundamental reforms we began six years ago have completely changed the image of our country. Today, we are pleased to welcome you, dear friends, in a completely new environment of the NEW UZBEKISTAN, which is opening up to the world and is committed to cooperation in all areas.
We can say with confidence that in recent years we have made great strides in honoring human dignity, liberalizing the economy, and confidently accessing world markets.
In particular, we have completely abolished forced labor and child labor to ensure in practice that human rights are regarded as the supreme value.
Our practical results in ensuring freedom of speech and belief, gender equality are recognized by the international community.
For the first time, we admitted the existence of poverty in our country and put an effective system in place to reduce it. The families in need of state social support have been fully covered by this system.
In addition, we are resolutely continuing reforms aimed at ensuring the rule of law, strengthening judicial independence and fair justice, and guaranteeing the inviolability of private property.
The administrative courts have been set up as part of a system of reliable protection of the interests of citizens and entrepreneurs.
Creating an atmosphere of intolerance for corruption in society has become one of our top priorities.
Our economic reforms are increasingly reflecting the simplicity and opportunities long awaited by our foreign investors and partners.
We have been able to double our foreign trade turnover through the liberalization of the currency system, removal of barriers to accessing foreign markets, and abolition of customs duties on more than 7,000 raw materials and goods.
At the same time, international organizations have recognized that the tax burden has been reduced almost two-fold, tax administration has been simplified, and Uzbekistan has established the most attractive fiscal system in our region.
Thanks to increased confidence in our reforms, the annual volume of foreign investment has tripled compared to 2017.
Overall, the creation of a favorable business environment in the country has enabled a quadruple increase in the number of entrepreneurs (from 485 thousand to 2 million people).
Most importantly, our people fully support our political and economic reforms.
Our updated Constitution, recently adopted by a nationwide referendum, firmly guarantees the irreversibility and sustainability of reforms.
In short, we will go forward more boldly without deviating from our chosen long-term path of openness and sustainable development.
First. We will improve the investment and business climate in our country and create a more favorable environment for investors through an integrated system.
In this regard, the Foreign Investors Council under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be a key link in establishing direct communication with foreign investors and joint development of mutually beneficial projects and long-term strategies.
There is no doubt that this dialogue platform established in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will bring us new experiences, create new opportunities and promote new approaches for our reforms.
Wherever the investors are, they will be provided with the necessary assistance and services in 14 regions, 208 districts, and cities, as well as in all embassies of Uzbekistan abroad, through the “single window” established at the Ministry of Investment.
By the end of the year, the International Commercial Court will also be established in cooperation with international experts, which will be for the first time in our history.
Second. We will vigorously pursue a policy of further liberalization of goods, services, capital, and labor markets.
In particular, we have made great efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organization so that we can be part of global production and supply chains.
I believe that we will achieve significant results in this direction this year.
Third. Reduction of excessive bureaucracy and “uprooting corruption” will remain at the focus of attention of our state and society.
By persistently continuing the administrative reforms initiated in this regard, we will introduce a compact and efficient public administration system that will help people and businesses and provide them with high-quality services.
We need to say the following honestly. The support of our international partners has been key in implementing our reforms and achieving our current results.
Today, I can say with absolute confidence that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has become our strategic partner on the path of sustainable development of Uzbekistan.
In particular, the fact that the Bank’s project portfolio in our country has exceeded 4 billion euros, of which 3.3 billion euros worth of projects were launched in the last four years alone, vividly testifies to this statement.
By the end of last year, Uzbekistan joined the ranks of the Bank’s top five major partners.
In terms of an annual volume of investments, Uzbekistan became the Bank’s largest business partner in Central Asia.
Most importantly, our approaches and goals for private sector development are aligned with those of the Bank.
The fact that now the share of private business in the Bank’s projects in our country has reached 55% is clear evidence of this alignment.
Our cooperation is rapidly developing in such areas as green energy, potable water, road transport, and ecology, which are vitally important today.
In particular, we have launched large-scale projects in the field of renewable energy involving 600 million euros of the Bank’s funds.
This active cooperation serves as a “catalyst” in attracting other foreign investors to our economy.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deep gratitude:
to the management of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, particularly the President of the Bank, Madam Renaud-Basso,
to the governments and governors of the Bank’s member states,
to the organizations and investors cooperating with the Bank,
to all the staff members of the Bank who carry out projects with us.
As we continue our reforms, we look forward to cooperating with development partners, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in the following areas.
First. In ensuring the sustainable economic development of our country, we build on the private sector alone.
In this regard, we well realize that our future progress is closely interlinked with privatization processes.
To this end, at the beginning of the year, we set ambitious targets in terms of selling the state shares in enterprises, putting up the shares of strategic companies and large banks for auction.
In particular, 40 enterprises of strategic importance to our economy will hold an IPO.
In this direction, we will implement an extensive program with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
One example, we are actively cooperating with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the privatization of the largest banks in our country – the Uzbek Industrial and Construction Bank and the Asaka Bank.
In addition, we have launched a special program in cooperation with the Bank for the effective use of our country’s natural resources, attracting investors with the latest technologies.
We have set ambitious goals for poverty reduction.
To accomplish them we will create new opportunities and conditions for entrepreneurs.
To this end, we are interested in further expanding our cooperation with the Bank to provide financial support to small and medium-sized businesses.
Second. Expanding public-private partnership projects in areas such as infrastructure, medicine, education, transport, and ecology.
In this regard, for the first time in our country, we are launching projects with the Bank to manage the drinking water network in Namangan and to build the modern “Tashkent-Samarkand” highway.
We will expand public-private partnership in tourism, which is a highly promising sector as well.
I believe that by staying here in Samarkand, you can feel for yourselves the enormous tourist potential that our country possesses.
In general, more than 40 major private-public partnership projects in healthcare, education, infrastructure, transport, and energy will be presented at this Conference.
I am confident that you will find these projects interesting.
Third, the rapid development of the green economy, especially the green energy sectors.
We intend to increase the share of renewables in electricity production by 40% by 2030.
In this regard, 3 large solar power plants with a total capacity of 1.2 gigawatt will be built this year with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
At the same time, the ancient Samarkand, which is hosting today’s conference, has recently been included in the Bank’s “Green Cities” Program.
We will count on the Bank’s support in including our cities such as Nukus, Andijan, Bukhara and Namangan in this program.
Fourth, we are paying special attention to further supporting women’s entrepreneurship in New Uzbekistan and creating equal opportunities for the implementation of their ideas and initiatives.
In this regard, our programs to ensure women’s employment and economic empowerment, which are being implemented with the Bank, deserve special attention.
We will further expand our cooperation with the Bank to increase the number of such projects dramatically.
Fifth, together with the Bank, we are ready to implement many more new projects on new agrotechnologies, water conservation, and food security.
I believe that such projects will be beneficial for both the Bank and investors in the current environment of increasing global food shortages.
Dear participants of the conference!
We have defined the development of cooperation in Central Asia as one of the most priority directions in the foreign policy of New Uzbekistan.
Today, Central Asia is becoming a bright example of good neighborliness and partnership thanks to the strong political will of the leaders of the regional countries and our consistent efforts.
In particular, to develop economic relations with our neighbors, we have set up joint investment funds and launched several major projects in industry, energy, transport, and water management.
We invite the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other foreign partners to actively participate in these regional projects.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to conclude by emphasizing one last point. Today’s International Conference is creating a historic opportunity to elevate the cooperation between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and our country to a new level.
At the same time, I am confident that visits of representatives of the governments of 71 countries to Samarkand will give a great impetus to launching mutually beneficial projects with them as well.
Today’s “Presentation of Investment Potential of Uzbekistan” has demonstrated in detail the great business opportunities that our country can offer.
In addition, new projects will be presented to you in detail at the sessions and meetings held as part of the conference.
I believe that each and every participant of the Conference will discover new ways of doing business in Uzbekistan.
In addition, the ancient and rich history of our country, unique cultural heritage, and hospitable and sincere people will leave an unforgettable impression on you.
I wish you all good health and happiness, the best of luck in your endeavors, and great success to the conference.
Thank you for your attention.