"Now it is the best time to start doing business in Uzbekistan," said Laziz Kudratov, the first deputy chairman of the Uzbek Committee for Investments, in his opening remarks at the Uzbekistan-Spain forum: Multifaceted Partnership, which kicked off Tuesday at the Wyndham Hotel, and which was co-organized by the committee, Spanish Export and Investment Agency ICEX and the Economic and Trade Department of the Spanish Embassy in Tashkent, PR branch of the committee.
He added that attracting foreign investments and creating favorable investment climate is one of the priorities of the reforms in Uzbekistan. Today, there are more than 6,000 foreign investors based in Uzbekistan and they enjoy macroeconomic and political stability, availability of raw materials, convenient transportation and logistics networks. We hope that after the business forum the number of Spanish companies in Uzbekistan will grow."
The forum is aimed at “strengthening the business ties between Uzbekistan and Spain in such sectors as energy, transport infrastructure, urban water supply, sanitation systems, solid waste management, civil engineering, food industry and agriculture”.
With the assistance of the committee and the ICEX Agency, business executives of more than 20 Spanish companies arrived in Tashkent to attend the forum. During the two-day forum, Spanish businesses will be able to discuss the ways to advance the trade, economic, investment cooperation with the officials of the Uzbek ministries of agriculture, water management, housing and utility services, the chamber of commerce and industry, the committee for automobile roads, Uzbekenergo, Uzbekneftegaz. The forum will be the preparation for the First meeting of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Cooperation in the Economic and Industrial Sphere between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kingdom of Spain.
"We are working on a memorandum on financial cooperation. At the first stage, Spain plans to provide to Uzbekistan 150 million euros in loans for strategic infrastructure, agriculture and industry projects" said the Spanish ambassador to Uzbekistan, Ignacio Ibáñez said in his remarks.
He added that despite the change of government in Spain, in the near future the parties will be able to hold the maiden meeting of the intergovernmental commission and discuss joint initiatives, and that the parties had already signed important deals in the field of economic and trade cooperation. He noted that the amount of investments by the Spanish company MAXAM is the largest from among European countries to Uzbekistan, mentioning the opening of Talgo service center for trains.
The chairman of the Uzbekistan chamber of commerce Adham Ikramov said that the parties have many potential areas for cooperation, including in the export of horticultural products, the launch of textile and chemical joint ventures (JV).
"Uzbekistan and Spain businesses are holding meetings at the frequency not witnessed in the previous years. I think that the Spanish businesses’ interest to Uzbekistan is very high. Over the past six months, a large number of agriculture, textile, fashion companies visited Uzbekistan," he said.
He noted that countries have “similar structure of economy” and should make use of their potential "in a changing world". We have a very great potential for increasing the two-way trade. In six months of 2018 the bilateral trade figures grew by 60% compared to the last year, but far below the true potential," Ikramov added. He urged the Spanish Ambassador to assist in opening of ICEX’S office in Uzbekistan.
The government of Uzbekistan, he assured, will provide all required facilities for effective operation for the Spanish businesses in Uzbekistan and organization of manufacturing JVs for exports to the third countries.
"We look at Spain as one of the important partners, because Spain is the 5th economy of the EU. We want Spain to become our strategic partner. For this, we need to work real hard," Ikramov said.