Address by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the participants of the Second Tashkent International Investment Forum
Dear participants of the Forum!
Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen!
I am very pleased to welcome you at the Second Tashkent International Investment Forum.
In fact, our meetings as part of this forum with the representatives of foreign governments and international financial institutions and heads of high-profile companies, who are close friends and reliable partners of Uzbekistan, are becoming a good tradition for all of us.
We perceive your visit to our hospitable land as a show of respect for our country and trust in our reforms. Welcome to Uzbekistan!
Dear participants of the Forum!
It is no secret that complicated and dangerous processes and unpredictable changes taking place on the international arena pose a serious challenge to the world economy.
I am confident that our meeting today in such a contradictory environment shall:
– promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation,
– open new business opportunities for all of us.
At the First International Investment Forum last year, new areas of cooperation were discussed and many agreements were reached.
Within a year, we have intensively continued systemic reforms to further liberalize our country’s economy, open a wide path for businesses, and strengthen the rule of law and legal guarantees.
1. Notably, we have made great transformations in creating the most favourable fiscal system in our region.
In particular, the value added tax rate has been reduced to 12 percent. As you know, previously this rate stood at 20 percent.
Entrepreneurs also welcome that:
– 7 days VAT refund system has been introduced for exporters;
– and the mutual accounting has been established in the tax and customs services. Until now, investors were stranded between two separate systems.
– the dividends received from shares of foreign investors were exempted from taxation for a period of three years;
– and the actual profit tax for them was reduced from 20 to 12 percent.
Importantly, it has been strictly specified that no new or aggravating liability measures can be introduced into tax and customs legislation.
2. The following important steps have been taken to liberalize foreign trade.
Customs duties have been abolished on more than 7 thousand types of raw materials and goods needed by investors.
A simplified processing procedure has been introduced in the customs territory.
In order to bring the foreign trade and competitive environment to a new level, and gain access to new markets, we have intensified our efforts in acceding the World Trade Organization.
I would like to emphasize that WTO requirements are fully coherent with the objectives of our reforms and we are interested in becoming a member of this prestigious organization as soon as possible.
The negotiations with the WTO member-states and harmonization of national legislation with its rules are now in full swing.
We have set specific objectives to achieve significant results by the end of the year.
3. We have embarked on an ambitious administrative reform to reduce bureaucracy, eliminate corruption and introduce compact, efficient management in the executive branch of power.
In this regard, all ministries were reformed, their number was reduced from 61 to 28, and their responsibilities and powers were clearly defined.
In addition, 500 functions of the state in business regulation were abolished, and 70 were transferred to the private sector on the basis of public-private partnership and outsourcing.
So far, 132 licenses and permits have been withdrawn, and notification procedures have been introduced for 33 of them.
Most importantly, an integrated investor engagement system has been introduced as part of the reform.
The Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade has set up a “Single Window” to assist investors in all processes from project initiation to its launch.
The Foreign Investors’ Council under the President began its work to promptly address investors’ issues and establish direct communication with the Head of State.
I am keen to communicate more with foreign companies and business persons. Your ideas, proposals and initiatives give me strength and encourage me to new reforms.
Therefore, I am ready to hold frequent meetings with new investors and personally guarantee you success in our country.
4. We are dynamically continuing our reforms in terms of reliable protection of the rights of investors.
We have greatly simplified the conditions for foreign investors to buy real estate, enter and leave Uzbekistan, as well as residence permit procedures.
Significant steps are being made in terms of guaranteed judicial protection of investors’ rights.
In this regard, the competencies of administrative courts were increased and they were given significant powers.
From now on, entrepreneurs and investors do not need to prove their claim in court. Now, the state agency will need to prove the legality of its decision.
Any arising uncertainties will be resolved in favor of investors.
We have set the mechanisms for enforcing the decisions of international arbitration courts in our legislation.
We will continue our reforms in protecting the rights of entrepreneurs this yeats as well.
In particular, the International Commercial Court will start its activities for the first time in our history. It has become possible thanks to the support of international experts.
5. As a result of our reforms, Uzbekistan’s status of a country with the most diversified economy in the region will further strengthen.
In one year alone, the following has been accomplished:
– nearly 100 thousand new enterprises created;
– the annual volume of attracted foreign investments reached $10 billion, in other words, it has tripled against 2017, when we began the reforms;
– nearly 1 million people have been lifted out of poverty, and the poverty rate has dropped from 17 to 14 percent. I would like to point out that this rate was over 30 percent when the reforms began.
Indeed, you, our partners, play an invaluable role in these achievements.
In recent years, with your support we established thousands of modern enterprises, implemented major projects, and created hundreds of thousands new high-paying jobs.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my deep gratitude and sincere respect to all foreign and domestic investors, governments of our partner states and international financial institutions that have been making a worthy contribution to these achievements.
We need even stronger legal framework in order for our reforms to progress rapidly and for businesses to develop safely and freely in our country.
As you know, in the coming days a nationwide referendum will take place on the renewed Constitution of the New Uzbekistan.
First and foremost, our new Constitution specifically states Uzbekistan as a sovereign, democratic, law-governed, social, and civil state.
All changes are based on the idea that “human rights and freedoms are the paramount priority”.
In addition, for the first time in our Constitution the state assumes obligations regarding:
– assuring a comfortable investment and business environment,
– ensuring inviolability of property,
– developing market relations and creating conditions for fair competition;
– ensuring the independence of courts.
There is no doubt that the New Constitution will continue the reforms we have launched, and most importantly, it will make them irreversible.
Now, I would like to dwell on new opportunities in enhancing cooperation with you.
First, Uzbekistan will firmly continue its path toward green transition.
In particular, the world’s most prestigious companies, such as ACWA Power, Masdar, TOTAL Eren, are implementing large-scale solar and wind power plant projects in our country.
This year alone more than 2 thousand megawatts of capacity will be commissioned, and next year – it will reach 8 thousand megawatts.
“Green economy” is inviting new industrial sectors to our country.
Enterprises producing solar panels, wind turbines, inverters and other electrical engineering products are being established.
This means 8 billion US dollars worth of opportunities for investors.
We are inviting you to implement these projects, and are ready to create all the necessary conditions for this.
Second, until recently, important sectors of the economy consisted only of state-owned enterprises.
As a result of these reforms, private investments are actively flowing into previously “closed” industries.
Here is an example. A wide path has opened for the private sector in aviation, which used to be a 100% state-owned network.
In particular, by setting up five private airlines and inviting an external operator company to the Samarkand airport enabled us to increase the number of flights by 2.5 times.
We will continue reforms aimed at creating a competitive environment in the transport sector.
This year, we will transfer the management of Andijan, Namangan, Bukhara and Urgench airports to the private sector.
We are also initiating big changes in the railway sector, and I kindly invite investors to take an active part in this process.
At the same time, the fact that Uzbekistan is becoming a “regional hub” in the rapidly growing fields of IT, tourism, education, and healthcare is a great opportunity in this direction.
We shall rely on the support of international financial institutions in the implementation these plans.
For instance, the Islamic Development Bank has trusted us and is actively working on 1.5 billion US dollars worth public-private partnership projects without state guarantees.
In this regard, I express my special gratitude to the President of the Bank, Mr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser, who is with us today in this forum.
I think our cooperation will be long-standing and be beneficial to both parties.
In general, this year, 14 billion US dollars worth dedicated programs in the field of public-private partnership have been developed with the support of international financial institutions.
The cover such important areas for state as transport, utilities and water management, public health and specific projects will be presented to you during this forum.
Third, we adopted a “one thousand, one thousand, forty” program to privatize state assets.
This means that:
– one thousand enterprises with a state share and one thousand properties owned by the state will be put up for public auction;
– 40 enterprises of strategic importance for our economy will hold an IPO.
In particular, shares of large gold and copper producing enterprises, telecommunication and insurance companies, as well as banks will be offered to investors.
Fourth, we attach priority to elevating industrial development to a new level.
For instance, today textile, leather and footwear, construction materials, electrical, mechanical engineering industries have a sufficient base of raw materials and qualified personnel.
In other words, there are enough capacities to make a “big leap” in these areas and increase the volume of their production and exports by 2 times.
In this regard, we need to cooperate with major brands, gain access to foreign markets, innovations and modern technologies.
We are ready to create all the conditions, organize dedicated technological parks and industrial zones and provide other additional benefits for the relevant investors.
I have instructed the ministers in this regard. They will present to you 160 large and mutually beneficial projects during the Forum sessions.
Fifth, we continue our policy of good neighborliness in Central Asia and are actively working with neighboring states to further promote economic cooperation.
To this end, we organize joint investment funds and carry out major regional projects in the fields of industry, energy, transport and water management.
Based on the principle of “complementarity” of our economies, we will resolutely continue industrial and agricultural cooperation.
I am pleased to welcome the Head of Government of the neighboring Kyrgyz Republic Mr. Oqilbek Japarov at the Forum.
Through cooperation with brotherly Kyrgyz Republic, in recent years the volume of mutual trade has increased 5 times, and the number of joint ventures has grown 8 times.
In particular, we have launched large-scale joint projects in textiles, automobile production, geology, chemical industry, agriculture and water management, animal husbandry.
All of these projects are financed through the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan Development Fund established in 2021.
Intensive work is underway on such projects as the construction of “Kambarata HPP-1” and the “China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan” railway.
In this regard, I would like to express special gratitude to the representatives of governments of neighboring countries, heads of major companies and entrepreneurs, who are actively supporting these initiatives aimed at enhancing cooperation between countries of our region.
Dear participants of the event!
We highly appreciate your attendance in today’s forum and your interest in doing business in our country.
There is no doubt that today’s forum will open new opportunities for all of us.
I am confident that during your interactions you will discover unique business opportunities in the New Uzbekistan.
In our country you will find the desired peace and stability, a favorable investment environment and necessary guarantees. I guarantee it to you as President.
I am confident that the New Uzbekistan will be a place that will leave a bright mark on your business activities.
May success and profound victories accompany you all in your future endeavors!
During the forum I wish you to achieve mutually beneficial agreements!
Thank you for your attention!