Negotiations on priorities in the investment and foreign trade areas
On June 20 this year, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan S. Umurzakov headed a video conference to negotiate on priorities in activation of investment and foreign trade, support of entrepreneurship, comprehensive social and economic development of certain regions, districts and cities of the Republic, as well as reduction of poverty and ensuring of public employment.
Top officials of the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, the Ministry of Transport, the State Tax Committee, the State Customs Committee, industry departments, industrial associations, relevant government agencies, and commercial banks, local authorities of the regions, the Republic of Karakalpakstan and the city of Tashkent, as well as the head of diplomatic representative offices of the Republic of Uzbekistan attended the meeting.
The participants considered the progress in achieving expected parameters of foreign trade in the first half of 2020. Here, they reviewed the effectiveness of measures taken by embassies and consulates of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 40 countries to promote domestic products in export markets. To increase efficiency of joint work with manufacturers, the participants developed export schedules, which will enable prompt identification of problems preventing their timely implementation.
Separately, they considered the issue of practical assistance to entrepreneurs and exporters of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and Khorezm region, in particular, the measures taken to allocate loan resources to replenish working capital and accelerate the return of previously paid VATs. This involved consideration of progress in instructions provided during the visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Khorezm region in March of this year, as well as during the work of the Republican Commission for Export Potential Development in regions and industries of Khorezm Region and the Republic of Karakalpakstan.
This review defined that 167 problems out of 171 ones identified during the Commission’s visit to the region were resolved while ensuring a planned, and in some cases, ahead of schedule, implementation of relevant investment projects. Moreover, the participants considered issues being currently jointly solved by relevant ministries and departments. They developed non-standard solutions, provided instructions to promptly solve the remaining pressing concerns.
There was a consideration of implementation of investment proposals developed by the Center for the Development of Investment Projects under the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade, i.e. 30 new promising projects worth USD 495 million, including USD 468 million to be financed by attracting foreign direct investment. According to these projects, currently, the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Uzbekistan abroad assigned to the districts and cities of Khorezm region actively negotiate with foreign companies through videoconferencing to reach specific agreements.
The participants also discussed on steps taken to enhance investment activities in Bukhara region through the review of potential of industry and agriculture. The heads of industry associations received instructions to thoroughly analyse the resources available in the districts and cities for high-tech manufacturing of products with high added value.
There was an analysis of deliverables from the restoration of business activity, support to local farmers and manufacturers, as well as new investment projects in Alat, Djandar and Karakul districts. Totally, 170 investment projects worth more than UZS 720 billion will be implemented in these regions by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The executive officers of relevant ministries, departments, commercial banks and local authorities received instructions to provide comprehensive support and monitor the progress in these projects.
Besides, there were targeted instructions to enhance the generation of export clusters based on large local manufacturers aimed at specific foreign markets, as well as to establish the 'Project Factory' involving gifted youngsters and countrypeople living and doing business abroad focused on the development of new promising investment proposals.
The participants considered the work to ensure employment, business development and poverty reduction in Namangan region. To meet these objectives, it is expected that 2020-2022 will involve implementation of 1,900 investment projects totaling UZS 14 trillion providing 48,000 new jobs. Therewith, it is planned to launch 1,589 projects totaling UZS 6.9 trillion providing 31,000 new jobs only this year.
Currently, a specially created Working Group proceeds to form new projects in this region considering the changes in market conditions and a detailed study of resources and opportunities, including identification of key 'drivers' for the growth, which can provide high economic return even with relatively small investments.
For instance, considering the development of the textile industry in Namangan region, it was entrusted to propose on creation of a free trade and industrial zone in one of the districts of the region focused on textile sector, while covering the production and packaging of finished products, as well as services for customs clearance and transportation of goods. Similarly, there was an instruction to consider the establishment of a livestock cluster, which also includes facilities for processing of wool and manufacture of finished products in Pup district.
A particular attention was paid to the execution of instructions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan received during the visit to Andijan and Fergana regions in May and June this year. It is planned to implement 774 projects totaling UZS 7.1 trillion providing 42,000 new jobs in 2020 in Andijan region. Fergana region will implement 737 projects totaling UZS 7 trillion providing 20,000 new jobs. The analysis disclosed pressing concerns of a private and systemic nature that prevent objectives commitment. The meeting directly developed the countermeasures to address objectives through brainstorming.
Concurrently, the heads of ministries, departments, commercial banks and local authorities received instructions to supplement the program of Andijan region development, while increasing attracted investments by 30% due to the development of additional investment projects to be implemented in 2021 and identifying specific initiators and sources of funding.
The participants noted the need to prioritize local public employment. Pursuant thereto, residents who need employment will be allocated to the projects as a matter of priority to projects, including employment as soon as facility's commissioning.
During the video-conference, the executive officers received some targeted instructions, including preparation of a draft government decision on the project on solid waste management in Andijan region using resources of the Asian Development Bank, measures to reduce the cost of textile products by 10% and development of a Road Map to localize the processing of yarn and the production of sewing and knitting products, as well as raising of additional funds for the program 'Every Family is an Entrepreneur'.
After the meeting, the executive officers from relevant state structures and local authorities were made personally responsible for the timely and high-quality implementation of objectives and instructions set. The General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Uzbekistan will monitor the execution of instructions.