World Bank sees two years of Uzbek growth of around 5.5%

By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent October 9, 2023

Uzbek GDP is expected to expand by 5.5% in 2023 and 5.6% in 2024, according to a revised economic update from the World Bank.

The forecast sees Uzbekistan this year trailing Tajikistan for growth, with the Tajiks expected to post 6.5%, but stay ahead of Kazakhstan (4.5%) and Kyrgyzstan (3.5%).

Main risk factors to Uzbek growth are considered to be the slowing of the Russian economy, the persistence of pro-inflationary factors and tough world financial conditions. Higher gas, gold and copper prices, as well as productivity growth, could be significant pluses.

Uzbekistan posted growth of 5.6% for 1H23. A significant increase in exports (+16%), primarily on shipments of cars and agricultural products and robust tourism, compensated for a decline in remittances.

The Uzbek som, meanwhile, has moved into difficult territory, having lately depreciated against the dollar by 8%.

The budget deficit has increased to 5.7% of GDP due to social spending growth and energy subsidies, combined with excise tax and VAT cuts.

One of the main long-term risk factors for Central Asia as a whole is climate change and the threat of inadequate water resources that could hit intensive economic sectors such as agriculture and hydropower.

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