The representative of Uzbekistan to Austria and the International organizations in Vienna, Sherzod Asadov, on the political relations between Austria and Uzbekistan.
We highly value the fact that on January 15, 1992 Austria was among the first countries to recognize the independence of our country. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations bilateral relations between Uzbekistan and Austria have maintained a good momentum of all-round development, highlighted by enhanced political mutual trust and economic cooperation.
Considering the great importance attached to the development of mutually beneficial relations with this leading European state, in January 1994 the Embassy of Uzbekistan was opened in Vienna.
Our bilateral cooperation is one of deep friendship, trust and mutual support on the international arena. Over the past dynamic and constructive period, we have formed a solid legal framework, which covers such areas as economy, investments, tourism, transport, environment, sustainable development, science and education.
Mechanisms for exchange of views on main topics of the bilateral and international agendas have been established between our countries. Political aspects of cooperation are discussed through contacts between parliamentarians and consultations of the ministries of foreign affairs. Thus, the last round of the inter-ministerial dialogue was held in Tashkent in April 2016.
Bilateral Economic cooperation
More than 30 enterprises have been established in Uzbekistan with the participation of Austrian capital that carry out their activities in such areas as chemical industry, machinery, construction, pharmaceuticals, agriculture etc. We have to work very hard on economic side of our relations because the current modest trade turnover amount does not correspond to the economic potential of our countries.
I would like to note that on January 11, 2018 the President of the Republic Uzbekistan, H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, held a first ever meeting with the heads of all diplomatic missions abroad. During this summit, the leader of Uzbekistan clearly indicated economic diplomacy as the priority of the national foreign service and set a formula for further activities, aimed at increasing three of the main economic indicators: exports, investments and tourism.
Therefore, we are now working very closely with WKO and the business community here to bring the best Austrian companies and their technologies, knowledge and experience to Uzbekistan.
Active development in recent years has received cooperation in the field of tourism. The rich historical, cultural and spiritual heritage of Uzbekistan increasingly attracts tourists from Austria. For the past few consecutive years we’ve been observing a steady increase in the number of Austrian tourists visiting Uzbekistan. This year we’re expecting more than 4000 travelers from this beautiful country that will visit such jewels of the Great Silk Road – Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva and other marvelous cities in Uzbekistan.
An important instrument for deepening business and investment cooperation is the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. Meetings of the commission are held regularly, and to date, six meetings have been held in this format. In addition, entrepreneurs of the two countries have the opportunity to communicate directly within the framework of regularly organized business forums.
Reforms in Uzbekistan
In December 2016, Uzbekistan entered a new phase in its development by starting far-reaching social reforms, which are designed to further improve the well-being of its people. On February 7, 2017 the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, signed a decree “On action strategy on further developing of Uzbekistan”. The action strategy on five priority directions on development of Uzbekistan is designed for 2017-2021. The document was widely discussed before it was adopted. It is aimed at improving the efficiency of the reforms, creating conditions for full and accelerated development of the state and society, implementing the priority areas for modernization and liberalization of the country in all spheres of life.
A vital part of that process has been the implementation of the measures outlined in the Government’s declaration of 2017, that marked the year for dialogue with the people and promotion of human interests. As the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, made clear in his address to both houses of parliament on December 22, 2017, government agencies must make the principle that they serve the people a cornerstone of their work, rather than the other way around.
As part of the effort to put this principle into practice, a new system is being used to engage in open dialogue with the public and to address their grievances effectively. Public reception offices and a virtual reception office of the President of Uzbekistan form the foundation of this system and function as a unique democratic institution that handles petitions from citizens. The main objective of these changes is to promote the interests of the people.
Economic reforms in Uzbekistan
Political and macroeconomic stability is a distinctive feature of Uzbekistan. As part of an effort to achieve deeper economic reforms, 2018 has been declared the year for entrepreneurship, innovation and technology in Uzbekistan.
As a matter of priority, entrepreneurs will be provided with the fullest support, specifically by making it easier to import high technologies and the latest scientific breakthroughs and to integrate them into production processes.
We are embarking on the path of innovative development that seeks to fundamentally improve every aspect of the Government and society.
According to the World Bank, we carried out the most reforms in the Europe and Central Asia region in the past year. As a result, this year we moved up to 74th place in the World Bank’s ease of doing business global rankings and earned a spot in the top ten global improvers.
Thanks to the measures implemented in 2017, the steady growth rates of economic growth amounted to 5.5 percent, the volume of exports increased by 15 percent. The positive balance in foreign trade reached $ 854 million.
Now the time is right to invest in Uzbekistan, because the business climate is changing, the economy is gaining momentum, which makes doing business easier.
Having a population of more than 32 million – almost half of the entire population of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is the biggest consumer market in the region. Advantageous geographic location and proximity to the biggest markets make our country an attractive place for foreign investors. In addition, we have the Free Trade Agreement with CIS countries which ensures duty-free access of Uzbekistan’s products to regional markets with population of more than 300 million.
According to observers, within a short period of time, Uzbekistan has created a completely new atmosphere in the region, which in the future can significantly improve the image of all Central Asia in the international arena. Recent breakthrough agreements with neighboring countries are gradually shaping the notion of the region as a full-fledged Central Asian five.