EBRD approves first Uzbek projects since 2007, plans to open Uzbek office in November

EBRD approves first Uzbek projects since 2007, plans to open Uzbek office in November
EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti is taking the development bank back into Uzbekistan, 10 years after it left after falling out with late autocrat Islam Karimov.
By bne IntelliNews October 25, 2017

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved financing for two projects in Uzbekistan, marking the return of the development bank’s financing operations to the country since it halted work there in 2007.

EBRD president Suma Chakrabarti elaborated on the projects in a message to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Tashkent Times reported on October 24, citing the message. Since taking over from the late autocrat Islam Karimov in late 2016, Mirziyoyev has introduced economic and human rights reforms in an effort at attracting back foreign investors and breathing new life into the economy. In early September, currency controls were lifted in an effort aimed at securing an investment renaissance.

Chakrabarti said: "These two operations consist of a credit line to the National Bank of Uzbekistan for US$100 million to support small and medium sized businesses and trade finance, as well as a loan of US$10 million to private fruit juice company Agromir.” He added. “These projects make a significant contribution to the country’s economic growth by strengthening the banking sector, small and medium-sized businesses and agribusiness.”

“Our specialists are currently developing a tangible package of additional investment projects in financial, agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as the development of municipal infrastructure. We’ve also launched the Small Business Consulting program, the first projects of which have already been launched. In addition, we are currently finalising our preliminary diagnosis for the country strategy. We hope that our delegation on the strategy will meet with your government early next year in order to agree on priorities for the EBRD’s long-term activities in the country,” the EBRD president added.

Chakrabarti also noted that the EBRD will officially open a Tashkent office in early November during a visit by an EBRD delegation consisting of first vice president Phil Bennett and vice president for risk Betsy Nelson.

During the visit, the delegation will also “hold a series of meetings with [the Uzbek] government and take part in the High-Level International Conference on Security and Sustainable Development in Central Asia, which will be held on 10-11 November in Samarkand,” the EBRD president concluded.