The Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant elaborated on his planned trade mission to Uzbekistan in the autumn as part of the burgeoning ties between the U.S. and Uzbekistan, the Asia Times said.
In an interview with Capitol Intelligence during the recent National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, Bryant said Mississippi and Uzbekistan were tied together through the U.S. Defense Department’s State Partnership Program between the Mississippi National Guard and the government of Uzbekistan.
Bryant’s trip would be the first time a U.S. governor has made an official visit to Uzbekistan.
Bryant noted that Trent Kelly, a U.S. congressman who also is a brigadier-general of the Mississippi National Guard, had recently visited Uzbekistan.
The visit by Bryant would follow some $6.5 billion in US private-sector investments in Uzbekistan by the likes of John Deere, General Electric, Honeywell and Caterpillar after the historic summit between the Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last May.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made a follow-up visit to Uzbekistan in October by keynoting a major financial investment conference in Tashkent.
The U.S. sees Uzbekistan as a strategic partner both in terms of lessening the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and by curbing China’s ambitions in Central Asia via its Belt and Road Initiative to re-create the ancient Silk Road.
Bryant, not wanting to arrive empty-handed, name-dropped one of America’s largest rice-processing groups, the Greensville, Mississippi-based Uncle Ben’s owned by McLean, Virginia-based conglomerate Mars, Inc.
There is talk of a second summit between Mirziyoyev and Trump in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the birthplace of the world’s cotton industry and the blues.