The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed the annual forum of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Samarkand on May 17.

“We consider the fact that this year’s Meeting of the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development takes place in the ancient and unique Samarkand as an expression of high trust and respect for our country and our reforms.,” he said, welcoming the guests.

The head of state expressed confidence that the forum, which has brought together more than 2,500 guests from all over the world, will strengthen the bridge of friendship and accord between nations.

“In an era of ever-intensifying geopolitical tensions, such open and close dialogues and further expansion of friendly relations are indispensable for all countries. In this sense, it is of great significance that the main theme of today’s high-profile conference has been named „Investing in Resilience“,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.

“You can all see that global economic problems are exacerbating. Climate change and environmental risks are increasing, while natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. In such a complex situation, more investments in new technologies and projects are required so that today’s and future generations can pursue a decent life,” the head of state said.

According to him, from this point of view, the forum “multilateral and long-term relations among countries to a new level, further increase investments for the development of our economies and make an invaluable contribution to the progress of all member countries.

The head of the country reminded that the meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was held in a similar format in Uzbekistan exactly 20 years ago.

In this regard, Shavkat Mirziyoyev stressed to the guests: “Today's Uzbekistan is not yesterday’s Uzbekistan”.

“As a result of the fundamental reforms that we began six years ago have completely changed the image of our country. Today, we are pleased to welcome you, dear friends, in a completely new environment of the New Uzbekistan, which is opening up to the world and is committed to cooperation in all areas,” he said.

The head of state noted that the country has made “great strides” in recent years in honoring human dignity, liberalizing the economy and confidently accessing world markets, we have completely abolished forced labor and child labor, there are “results in ensuring freedom of speech and belief, gender equality”.

“For the first time, we admitted the existence of poverty in our country and put an effective system in place to reduce it. The families in need of state social support have been fully covered by this system,” the president recalled.

“Our updated Constitution, recently adopted by a nationwide referendum, firmly guarantees the irreversibility and sustainability of reforms,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev stressed.

He said that Uzbekistan will “go forward, more boldly” without deviating from our chosen long-term path of openness and sustainable development. “We will improve the investment and business climate in our country and create a more favorable environment for investors through an integrated system,” he said.

“In this regard, the Foreign Investors Council under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be a key link in establishing direct communication with foreign investors and joint development of mutually beneficial projects and long-term strategies. There is no doubt that this dialogue platform established in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will bring us new experiences, create new opportunities and promote new approaches for our reforms,” the President said.

By the end of the year, the International Commercial Court will also be established in cooperation with international experts, which will be for the first time in our history, he recalled.

“We will vigorously pursue a policy of further liberalization of goods, services, capital and labor markets,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said. — “In particular, we have made great efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organization so that we can be part of global production and supply chains. I believe that we will achieve significant results in this direction this year”.

The President also promised that reducing excessive bureaucracy and “uprooting corruption” will remain at the focus of attention of the state and society.

“By persistently continuing the administrative reforms initiated in this regard, we will introduce a compact and efficient public administration system that will help people and businesses and provide them with high-quality services,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.

“I will say frankly,” the head of Uzbekistan addressed to the EBRD governors, “the support of our international partners has been key in implementing our reforms and achieving our current results. Today, I can say with absolute confidence that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has become our strategic partner on the path of sustainable development of Uzbekistan. In particular, the fact that the Bank’s project portfolio in our country has exceeded 4 billion euros, of which 3.3 billion euros worth projects were launched in the last four years alone, vividly testifies to this statement.

The President noted that at the end of last year Uzbekistan was among the top five major partners of the Bank and became the largest business partner in Central Asia in terms of annual investment volumes.

“Most importantly, our approaches and goals for private sector development are aligned with those of the Bank. The fact that now the share of private business in the Bank’s projects in our country has reached 55% is clear evidence of this alignment,” he said.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev expressed deep appreciation to the EBRD leadership, governments of member states and managers of the bank, the bank’s partner organizations and investors, and all its staff.

The President of Uzbekistan noted that the country relies only on private sector to ensure sustainable economic growth. “Therefore, we well understand that our future development is inextricably linked to the processes of privatization. For the first time, 40 enterprises of strategic importance to our economy will be put up for an IPO,” the head of state said.

He also recalled that Uzbekistan has set itself “ambitious goals for poverty reduction. “To accomplish them we will create new opportunities and conditions for entrepreneurs. To this end, we are interested in further expanding our cooperation with the Bank to provide financial support to small and medium-sized businesses,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev stressed.

The country is also interested in expanding public-private partnership projects in areas under the responsibility of the state, such as infrastructure, medicine, education, transport, and ecology. “In this regard, for the first time in our country, we are launching projects with the Bank to manage the drinking water network in Namangan and to build the modern „Tashkent-Samarkand“ highway,” the head of state said.

He added that public-private partnership will also expand in tourism, which has high potential.

Uzbekistan is also interested in accelerated development of green economy spheres, especially green energy.

“We intend to increase the share of renewables in electricity production by 40% by 2030. Already this year 3 large solar power plants with a total capacity of 1.2 gigawatt will be built this year with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,” the President reminded.

He noted that Samarkand was included to the EBRD’s Green Cities programme. “We rely on the bank’s support in the inclusion of our cities such as Nukus, Andijan, Bukhara and Namangan in this programme,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.

The head of state spoke of plans to support women’s entrepreneurship in the New Uzbekistan, “to create equal opportunities for women-entrepreneurs to implement their ideas and initiatives.

“In this regard, our programs to ensure women’s employment and economic empowerment, which are being implemented with the Bank, deserve special attention. We will further expand our cooperation with the Bank to dramatically increase the number of such projects,” he said.

The President also said that Uzbekistan is ready to implement in cooperation with the EBRD many new projects in areas of advanced agro-technology, water conservation and food security.

“I believe that such projects will be beneficial for both the Bank and investors in the current environment of increasing global food shortages,” he stressed.

The Uzbek president also highlighted the development of cooperation in Central Asia and invited the EBRD and other partners to actively participate in regional projects in the fields of industry, energy, transport and water management.