Sodiq Safoev, the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of Uzbekistan and EBRD Governor for Uzbekistan, addressed the EBRD Board of Directors in London on Wednesday. It was the first high-level visit of a Uzbek official since the resumption of the Bank’s full operations in the country in November 2017.
Governor Safoev spoke about the launch of a broad reform programme in Uzbekistan, which covers multiple areas including democratisation and transparency of the state and regional authorities, anti-corruption efforts, decentralisation, public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives and many others.
He also touched upon urgent tasks the Uzbek authorities are dealing with at the moment such as the improvement of the country’s business environment, investment climate and global competitiveness, support of sustainable development of private small businesses and the development of new financial products and services designed to serve the needs of the country’s economy.
Following a visit by EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti to Uzbekistan in March 2017 the Bank opened a new chapter of engagement in November. First Vice President Phil Bennett signed three loan agreements for a total value US$ 120 million to support private small enterprises. He reiterated the EBRD’s readiness to substantially increase its involvement and praised the country’s potential.
The EBRD’S current objectives in Uzbekistan are to support domestic SMEs, promote trade finance and cross-border cooperation as well as facilitate foreign direct investment that will result in the transfer of technologies and know-how and thus the improvement of the competitiveness of the Uzbek economy. It is expected that the EBRD Board of Directors will agree a new country strategy for Uzbekistan in 2018, which will set out longer-term strategic priorities.
Between 1992 and 2010, the EBRD invested €894 million in Uzbekistan in 54 projects. Entering a new stage of engagement in the country, the Bank has already identified a number of possible new projects, some of which are due to be signed by the end of 2017, with more to follow in 2018.