Among business announcements made during French President Emmanuel Macron’s November 2 visit to Uzbekistan was a statement from French uranium giant Orano that it has extracted 350 kilograms of uranium in a pilot project in the Central Asian country and intends to boost its presence there.
France, heavily reliant on nuclear energy and wary of its nuclear energy security retaining any significant reliance on Russian uranium given the geopolitical situation, is looking to develop uranium ventures across Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. France’s sourcing of uranium from Niger is also threatened by degraded relations following the coup that took place in the West African nation in July. Uzbekistan is the world's fifth-largest uranium producer.
Around 60 French business leaders accompanied Macron on his visit to Uzbekistan, the first paid by a French leader to the country since that of Francois Mitterrand in 1994.
Also during Macron’s visit, French energy company Edf closed a pre-contract for two hydroelectric projects in Uzbekistan, while France’s TotalEnergies signed a memorandum of agreement for the extension of the Tutly solar power plant in the country.
Another agreement saw the Uzbek Ministry of Energy and France’s Voltalia seal a deal for a project related to the construction of a hybrid power plant.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who since 2017 has been opening up his country to foreign trade and investment, met a number of the French executives who travelled with Macron. Discussions centred on matters such as dairy giant Lactalis’ plans to build a plant in the city of Namangan and a proposal by Semmaris to build a network of agricultural logistics centres in Uzbekistan.
Macron, reported AFP, used the trip to give his backing to Mirziyoyev's economic, financial market and business reform programme.
"Uzbekistan is transforming. We must be there," Macron said at the opening of a French-Uzbek business forum in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand.
France during the Macron visit also pledged to support Uzbekistan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Macron also stated: “France stands for the early signing of an Agreement on Expanded Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and Uzbekistan.”
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