Joint support measures to improve investment climate in Uzbekistan

Nov 8, 2017

An International Round table on improving the investment climate in Uzbekistan was held on the 8th of November 2017 and brought together representatives of state and international organizations, the largest foreign and local companies. The round table forum was organized by the Senate of the Oliy Majlis together with the State Investment Committee, the UNDP ‘Improving the Investment Climate in the Republic of Uzbekistan’ project and the EBRD Office to Uzbekistan with the media support of the International Press Club.

Raising the country's investment attractiveness, within the framework of economic liberalization, is one of the priorities of the Strategy of Action on five priority directions for the development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021. The undertaken measures led to changing the foreign investments inflow decrease tendency, which marked a drop from 3.3 to 1.9 billion US dollars in the period between 2011 and 2016.

Participants of the round table as the cause undermining the overall level of investment pointed out the shortcomings of the national legislation, including dispersion of the investment legislation across sectors, prevalence of bylaws over laws, which complicates enforcement thereof, reduces effectiveness of investment legislation and, as a result, has a negate impact on the development of country’s economy and image.

“Both domestic and foreign investments are critical vehicles for job creation and growth. They underpin an economy’s competitiveness, productivity and innovative capacity. Job creation is especially vital for Uzbekistan, which has a young and growing population with around half a million entering the labor force every year.  Investments are needed to harness this productive capacity and translate it to growth and wealth creation, to improve the living standards of the people in the country,” highlighted Helena Fraser, UNDP Resident Representative, in her opening speech.

To stimulate the enabling environment, the Leadership of the country is developing and adopting a new investment legislation that would provide the effective mechanisms of administrative, legal and judicial safeguards of investors’ rights and legitimate interests.

The State Investment Committee, with the support of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis and UNDP, has established the inter-agency Working group to develop the Investment Code, aimed at resolving concerns, providing additional opportunities warranted by law, increasing investment and improving country’s business environment. The Investment Code concept was discussed within the meeting and has been also submitted for public discussion to the portal www.regulation.gov.uz.

The Chairman of the State Investment Committee Mr. A.Akhmedkhadjaev in his presentation highlighted that the adoption of the Investment Code will lead to streamlining governance of all types of investments, introducing a single transparent legal framework, improve legal protection of investor rights and reducing bureaucratic burden.

Phil Bennett, First Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, noted that currency liberalisation is a landmark reform in Uzbekistan, creating opportunities for business development. The EBRD office opened in Tashkent has a strong pipeline of projects across many sectors and stands ready to support the authorities and stakeholders in building a platform for public-private dialogue tailored to the Uzbekistan context to attract foreign investors.

The implemented reforms have positive effect on country’s positions in the global rankings. Stefka Slavova, Lead Economist of the World Bank, emphasized the significant improvement of Uzbekistan’s position in the World Bank's Doing Business 2018 Report, where Uzbekistan climbed 13 positions and earned a spot in the top 10 global business climate improvers.

Despite the positive changes in doing business, speakers stressed the need to move forward with the reforms, focusing on reducing tax burden and easing the tax system, improving the regulatory framework in attracting foreign investment.

Visions and proposals on improving the investment climate delivered by the discussion participants formed a series of recommendations to the government, which were adopted at the end of the round table.

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The UNDP ‘Improving the Investment Climate in the Republic of Uzbekistan’ project provides support in improving the investment climate to attract foreign direct investments to the economy and the regions to create jobs. The project serves as a platform to coordinate the efforts of other donors and international organizations in this priority area.

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