Uzbekistan: Achievements of economic reforms and outlook
September 29-30, 2021
The Forum is held with the support and high level participation of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and will bring together in an in-person setting around 300 participants -including high level representatives of the Uzbek Government, international business and financial communities, international and regional multilateral development institutions, policy makers, NGOs and international media.
While economies the world-over continue to grapple with COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences, Uzbekistan has demonstrated economic resilience, responding to the crisis with a host of support measures. These emergency measures signal Uzbekistan’s unwavering commitment to continue its reform agenda, launched in 2017.
The Forum offers a unique occasion to discuss and deliberate plans to maintain the economic liberalization course and build a more open, internationally integrated and competitive market economy. Moreover, participants will have the opportunity to engage policymakers about initiatives to improve the investment climate and maintain macroeconomic stability with the aim of bettering living standards and fostering sustainable, inclusive economic growth.
COVID-19. The health and well-being of participants is our absolute priority. From the outset, the Forum has been planned with COVID-19 measures in place, including limiting the number of in-person participants, adopting a socially-distanced layout, mandating mask wearing and offering testing throughout.
Panel Discussion: Realizing the New Growth Agenda
Building Momentum for Growth: Confronting Old and New Challenges
Uzbekistan is aiming at increasing GDP per capita by 1.6 times next 5 years, with a goal of getting into upper middle income group by 2030. This goal requires leapfrogging in certain sectors, resulting in jump start growth. On the other hand, maintaining macroeconomic stability is a key condition. Reform directions to create conditions for business and investment climate improvement: as such energy supply and energy efficiency, transformation and privatization, land and urbanization, agriculture sector reforms (choice of farmers, stimulate R&D, new and modern technologies), capital markets development, transport and logistics services liberalization, trade liberalization, opening new markets and access to integrations, human capital development (education, health, poverty reduction), development of digital economy, bringing knowledge and science in every aspect (AI, IT), improve labor factor productivity and to apply green economy principles to every aspect of socio-economic situation (green finance, water, energy, land efficiency, agriculture, industry). How to make these ambitious targets viable in pandemic era? How sustainability can be attained? How to tackle the issues of climate change, jobs and poverty?
General Audience Lunch
VIP Lunch & “Fireside Chat” – The Global Context and the Development of the Uzbek Economy
Roundtable: Developing Human Capital Potential to Drive Inclusive Growth and Poverty Relief
Over the past decades the poverty rate in Uzbekistan has dropped from 27% of total population to less than 11% in 2018, and some half a million Uzbekistan youth join the labour market annually. In order to create needed jobs, policymakers, with the support of business leaders, must combine the strong traditional grounding in basic education with technical skills development, entrepreneurship, SME development, and research and innovation. What should be done to assure that growth opportunities remain inclusive and that poverty alleviation and social safety nets are sustained? What are the types of skills and jobs that are needed to assure the most economically disadvantaged into the mainstream economy? What’s the role of education in the poverty relief? How can strengthening regional trade factor into further economic growth? What further steps should be taken to create the jobs of tomorrow in sectors ranging from digitalization, chemical engineering, transport and logistics management to professional services and communications?
Interactive Panel: Prospects of Regional Economic Cooperation
The Uzbek economic reform agenda does not only have implications domestically – a prosperous, thriving Uzbekistan can strengthen Central Asian and wider CIS stability and act as a catalyst for wider regional growth. What are some of the key sectors that can foster stronger trade and investment ties? What are some of the major logistics infrastructure projects and policy prescriptions that can deepen regional connectivity and what new transport corridors might be created? What steps should be taken to assure a more rational use of water and other shared regional resources?
Opening the Economy to Maintain Competitiveness – Financial Times Live virtual panel co-hosted by the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Having experienced early success in instigating market-oriented economic reforms, Uzbek policymakers now face new challenges as they seek to balance the risks in gradually opening to international competitive pressures while maintaining overall stability and public support for reforms. What are the key sectors set for liberalization and what approaches have proven most effective? How can increased private sector participation in the economy stemming from privatization and new PPP approaches coupled with SOE reforms lead to greater competition and competitiveness?
Dinner hosted by the Government
Deep Dive: Dialogue with the Government – Building Momentum with the Privatization Agenda
Presently, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) run some 55% of Uzbekistan’s economy, whereas in Poland this figure is about 43%. Despite some disruptions due to the pandemic the country is implementing plans to sell fully or in part some 620 of the country’s 2,500 state-owned companies,. Putting enterprise in private hands is being coupled with lifting price controls, labour market reform, removal of quotas, integration with new supply chains and incentives to modernize productive technology platforms. Relevant government authorities and a panel of experts will discuss the prognosis for the privatization over the short and medium term as well as take questions from the audience.
Deep Dive: Dialogue with the Government – PPP Investment Frameworks to Accelerate FDI
Standing at the heart of the New Silk Road project is just one of the reasons why Uzbekistan is set to gain from a massive expansion of infrastructure and logistics capabilities. To meet its bold ambitions for expanded infrastructure, the government seeks to bring in private sector capital, technology, and knowhow via PPP financing frameworks. In this session we will explore what the government’s priorities are and what PPP models it plans to deploy as it builds FDI partnerships.
Deep Dive: Dialogue with the Government – Nurturing Value-added Production in Metals & Mining
Mining is one of Uzbekistan’s primary strategic industries, predominantly gold and, copper but also uranium, silver, coal, zinc, phosphate, potassium, rare earth and other minerals. Strategies are being developed to incentivize needed capital and technology to open new fields and bring efficiencies to existing operations, but also explore opportunities to expand value added production. In this panel government authorities will explore the potential for private sector investment, preparations for state owned asset public listings, and the development of value-added production in these sectors while keeping in mind ESG standards and norms.
Roundtable: Fostering SMEs as a Jobs Creation & Economic Growth Engine
Uzbek job demand continues to outpace supply in the formal sector of the economy, and large SOEs and the public sector have over the past decade been unable to provide sufficient employment opportunities. However, SMEs and micro businesses are a bright spot, contributing greatly to a steep fall in the poverty rates and generating some 78% of jobs created. What measures should policymakers take to further nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs? What systemic foundations are needed to create a business culture where reasoned risk taking and even failure are tolerated? How should the financial and banking sector adjust its practices so that credit-worthy entrepreneurs can access the capital support they need to maintain and even expand operations?
Roundtable: Manufacturing and Uzbekistan’s Role in Global Supply Chains
Continuing the shift towards private sector production while introducing measures to enhance resource and energy efficiency stand to make Uzbekistan a regional centre for industrial production in automotives, transport, petrochemicals, electronics, power generation and other idustries. What further steps are needed to accelerate the shift towards private sector production and create needed productivity gains? How critical is digitalization of manufacturing platforms if Uzbekistan is to carve out a role in global manufacturing supply chains?
Roundtable: Assuring a Successful Transformation and Stability of the Banking System
The transformation of the banking sector away from state-dominated public project financing to more traditional private sector commercial banking operations is a cornerstone element to Uzbekistan’s reform program. How can the reform of state-owned banks, together with innovations such as mobile banking, digitalization of financial services, Fintech and other advanced technologies accelerate a transformation of the banking sector while assuring inclusive access to financial services? What steps are being taken to build better banking services for an emerging private sector, particularly SMEs? What is the role of foreign investors in realizing these strategies?
Roundtable: Roadmap for a Sustainable Future in Energy and Petrochemicals
The government of Uzbekistan has laid out a comprehensive strategy to privatize and revamp its power generation infrastructure and build capacity to more than double power production (from 14 GW to 34 GW) by 2030, of which 1/5 is to come from renewable sources. At the same time, Uzbekistan is planning to expand its downstream petrochemical capabilities and to half its energy intensity over the coming decade via energy efficiency measures. While capital support is an important element to seeing this strategy to fruition, human capital, knowhow, software and automation technology partnerships could also prove essential. What role can foreign investors and technology providers play in meeting generation and efficiency targets? What steps can the country take in order to take regional leadership in Central Asian petrochemicals?
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction
Former Chair, Chatham House
Vice President, Europe and Central Asia World Bank
Vice President, Asian Development Bank
Erich de Rothschild
Vice Chairman, Rothschild & Co.
Minister of Finance, Republic of Uzbekistan
Sir Suma Chakrabarti
Former President, EBRD
Public Finance Specialist, Agence française de Développement
Director General, Asian Development Bank
First Deputy Minister of Finance, Republic of Uzbekistan
Deputy CEO, Veolia Environment
First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, Republic of Uzbekistan
CFO, JSC 'UzMetkombinat'
Odilbek Isakov CFA
Deputy Minister of Finance, Republic of Uzbekistan
Member of Supervisory Council, Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Company
Çiğdem Akin PhD
Principal Public Management Economist, Asian Development Bank