Uzbekistan’s initiatives for the development of regional cooperation
Head of UzLiDeP Faction in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis
China ranks first among the trade partners of Uzbekistan. At the end of 2022, the trade turnover between the countries amounted to about nine billion dollars. Bilateral trade is predicted to reach $10 billion in 2023. Thus, China is a large and promising market for Uzbek goods and a vital and time-tested potential partner in the field of investment.
We in Uzbekistan see that in a historically short period, the Belt and Road program has demonstrated its viability and an essential role in developing regional international cooperation, opening up new development opportunities for those countries that participate in this program. Moreover, the role of the Belt and Road on a regional and global scale is now becoming increasingly relevant, especially considering the transformation of international relations worldwide.
Uzbekistan, as one of the first countries to support the Belt and Road Initiative, actively participates in implementing this initiative of the PRC. This allows our country to increase the volume of trade and economic investment cooperation and build new production and supply chains, diversifying cargo transportation routes. The development of transport and communication links is of great importance for our country, forming new transport corridors directly related to the construction of the Belt and Road.
In this context, let us single out the China – Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan railway construction project, an agreement that was reached during the Samarkand SCO Summit. Implementing the project is of great importance, as it will open up new opportunities in trade, economics, investment, and other areas of cooperation between our countries. The development of safe and shortest transport corridors connecting China with Central Asia, with access to Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia, is strategically important.
Therefore, it is very symbolic that the first summit, the first meeting at the level of heads of state in the “Central Asia – China” format, was held in the historical and ancient city of Xi'an. So, it is from there that the Great Silk Road originates. This city is a vivid embodiment of the ties between our peoples, between our countries that go back centuries. The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev also took part in this representative event. Issues of further expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and China and current international and regional issues were discussed at the summit.
This summit has become a historic event and will bring new opportunities for all our countries. Separately, we highlight the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, expressed during the online summit of Central Asia and China leaders in January 2022, the new economic dialogue “Central Asia – China”.
In his speech, Shavkat Mirziyoyev stressed that this meeting is crucial in a complex international situation. Our countries, having overcome the ordeals of the pandemic, have faced the negative consequences of a global crisis of confidence. Serious gaps have occurred in sustainable transport and logistics chains, which is especially sensitive for Central Asia, challenges to food and energy security, and risks of social tension against the backdrop of growing inflation imports have emerged. All this requires closer coordination and practical interaction.
In this regard, for closer coordination and practical interaction, Shavkat Mirziyoyev put forward several valuable initiatives to develop regional cooperation based on a long-term agenda, long-term plans, and tasks of multifaceted cooperation. The need to establish interaction between the leading think tanks of the six countries for the development of strategic approaches, comprehensive recommendations, and solutions, breakthrough projects on a regional and global scale was noted. As a discussion platform, it was proposed to hold the first International Expert Conference in Samarkand next year on the conjugation of national development strategies.
The President dwelled separately on the issues of creating conditions for the sustainable development of the region’s countries, where the central place is given to the effective fight against poverty. Adopting and implementing a joint program with specific tasks to improve living standards and developing territories, primarily rural areas, will contribute to achieving the Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Also, the President of Uzbekistan called for the further formation of the New Economic Dialogue and strengthening connectivity, achieving a twofold increase in trade between the countries of the region and China by 2030. This can be achieved through a balanced growth of mutual supplies of industrial goods and agricultural products, an efficient trade and logistics infrastructure and modern wholesale distribution networks, the introduction of green and express corridor systems, and common e-commerce platforms.
It was proposed to consider adopting a Multilateral Agreement on the Promotion of Mutual Trade and Investments to form favorable framework conditions and a legal framework. The issues of deepening industrial cooperation, attracting digital technologies, and introducing innovations can be effectively resolved through direct regional contacts with the provinces of China.
In conclusion, we would like to note that following the meeting, the heads of state signed the Xi'an Declaration of the Central Asia – China Summit. It reflects the fruitful results of the last summit, which will strengthen good-neighborly relations and all-round cooperation, the prosperity of countries and peoples. Speaking about China, it can be noted that the investment projects that Uzbekistan is implementing with the participation of Chinese partners contribute to developing the national economy and technological modernization. Uzbekistan sees excellent prospects in using the potential of China as one of the world leaders in many areas.