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REGIONS ASIA-PACIFIC


Goingregional INTERVIEW: LAZIZKUDRATOV


UZBEK DEPUTY MINISTER OF INVESTMENTS LAZIZ KUDRATOV TELLS JACOPO DETTONI WHY THE REGION SHOULD COME TOGETHER


the past few years and, despite the pandemic, has managed to keep investment flowing in. Uzbekistan is now looking beyond Covid-


T


LAZIZ KUDRATOV CURRICULUMVITAE


2019 Uzbekistan Minister of Investments and Trade


Previously Counsellor on trade and investment, Uzbek embassy in the US


environment?


which is why we have been focusing on making life easier forbusinesses.Wereducedthe taxbur- den; suspended tax auditing for one year, aswell as the penalties for those that didn’t pay taxes; and also introduced a moratorium on bank- ruptcy for companies experiencing troubles because ofCovid-19. Plus,weliftedandcancelled 70 licences and 35 types of permits to allowbusi- nesses to conduct entrepreneurial activity with- out needing either fromthe government. We are now working with the World Bank


Q A


to revise the tax system.Weare also working to reform the banking system. We have invited the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help us transformand restructure state-owned banks and prepare them for future privatisa- tion.Weare also focusing on developing a capi- tal market — we established an anti-monopoly agency and an anti-corruption committee.


Q A


Has foreign direct investment haltedthis year?


FDI has not necessarily stopped. We have managed to keep investment activities and


IFWEUNITEANDSELL CENTRAL ASIA ASONE MARKETANDONEPRODUCT, IT’S GOING TO BE MOREATTRACTIVE TO THE EYES OF FOREIGN INVESTORS


70


Of course, the pandemic affected Uzbekistan as it did any other country,


19, and at its vision of creating both a regional market and a regional investment promotion platform as the region as a whole is more attractive to investors than its single markets, argues the country’s deputy minister of invest- ments and foreign trade, Laziz Kudratov.


What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the Uzbek economy and business


he pandemic has not spared Uzbekistan. But the Central Asian country has been going through a deep reform process in


FDI inflows. According to our estimates, the vol- ume of FDI amounted to almost $5bn between January and September, which represents a growth of 101% from a year earlier. The major- ity of this investment went into metallurgy and mining, then IT and chemicals. We are also see- ing an increase in building and construction material projects as construction is booming. Energy is also attracting much investment, and we started developing solar and wind energy projects with foreign investors.


Q A


Howhave youbeen adjusting your invest- ment proposition in the midst of the


pandemic?


It showed us that to be competitive, we should focus on high-added-value manufac-


turing. Uzbekistan is a double-landlocked coun- try and transport costs affect our competitive- ness. To be morecompetitive we should focus on adding value to our raw materials and export finished products. In this context, we have to attractwesterntechnology to insurewearemore efficient, and increase the level of productivity of the economy and the industry.


should focus on perfecting it inside the country by producing polymers, plastics, fertilisers and so on. The same applies across the sectors — tex- tile, building materials and agriculture, among others. We want to bring technology and inven- tors in to process raw materials and produce high-added-value products.


Q A


ing on building good political relations with our neighbours aimed at cooperation on indus- trial and value chain development.


Q A


attracting it to the region’s single markets. If we unite and sell Central Asia as one market and one product, it’s going to be more attrac- tive to the eyes of foreign investors.■


Q A


www.fDiIntelligence.com December 2020/January 2021


Are you also supporting a regional plat- formfor investment promotion?


Yes — attracting investment to one big regional market is more attractive than


Do you believe Central Asia as a regional market will become more prominent?


Developing the region as a single economic zone is of utmost priority, andweare focus-


For example?


Think of natural gas. The majority of our production is exported as fuel, while we


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