Uzbekistan Roadmap for Sustainable Investment Policy Reforms launched

By Tawney Kruger in Tashkent March 11, 2024

An Uzbekistan Roadmap for Sustainable Investment Policy Reforms, or RSIPR, funded by the European Union and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was launched on March 6 in Tashkent.

The initiative has been developed by the Uzbek government, in cooperation with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The roadmap aims to comprehensively assess Uzbekistan's current investment framework.

As part of the project, the government committed to creating an inter-ministerial taskforce, involving all spheres of government.

The project “will allow Uzbekistan to benefit from evidence-based and up-to-date analysis and tailored recommendations to improve the investment climate, support reform implementation, and maximise the development impact of foreign direct investment in the longer run,” according to a statement posted on the EU portal.

Those involved in the project, including the EU Ambassador to Tashkent, Charlotte Adrian, made mention of Central Asia’s strategic importance to the EU and Uzbekistan’s reform efforts.

The ADB, one of Uzbekistan’s biggest investors, said the project was a successful collaboration and expressed continued support for the country’s public sector participation in structural reforms, with a focus on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and financial market reforms.

Reforms and roadmaps cannot be designed in this day and age without a focus on sustainability. On this point, the OECD investment division’s deputy head, Stephen Thomsen, observed “that a strong government buy-in, tested methodology and tailored scope to Uzbekistan will be a winning strategy”.

The RSIPR incorporates tools from the ADB and OECD, such as the OECD Policy Framework for Investment and FDI Restrictiveness Index.

Collaboration between the Foreign Investors Council and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to strengthen Uzbekistan's investment legislative framework.

This effort includes drafting a new investment law to clarify investment regimes and enhance services for foreign investors. Additionally, the ADB is addressing structural challenges within Uzbekistan's economy, focusing on the state's economic role, climate change and human capital shortages.

A project final report is to be presented in mid-2025.

In April, the first formal EU-Central Asia Summit will be held in Samarkand. It follows on from a January visit paid to Uzbekistan by Margaritas Schinas, deputy chairman of the EU Commission.

High-level state visits to Uzbekistan such as this one have been occurring more frequently over the past two years, indicating that major powers are showing growing interest in the region.

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