UPDATE: Mar 17, 2017
Developing Mutually Multifaceted Beneficial Relationship,
Especially in the Sphere of Innovative Technologies
—– Uzbekistan celebrates the 25th anniversary of Independence this year. How would you assess the progress in the economic development and democratization?
After the independence, our economy grew 6 times more, and the per capita GDP increased by more than 12 times. The “Uzbek Model” increased the share of the industry sector to 34%; and processed goods account for 70% of our exports. As President Karimov said, “Do not destroy the old house before building a new one”, we are gradually advancing the privatization while strengthening the state-owned enterprises. Regarding democratization, we are building a society where all the ethnic groups and religions respect each other. The Uzbekistan society has a traditional mutual aid system called “Mahhallya”. The country is governed by the bicameral parliament and the judicial system, and the freedom of press is respected.
—– Uzbekistan maintains the annual GDP growth rate of 8% over the past eleven years, and is the fifth fast-growing economy. Considering the world economy slowdown, what are the challenges to the Uzbek economic future?
We are modernizing and diversifying the economy, and expanding the fields that drive the Uzbek economy. To raise our global competitiveness, we are trying to enhance our educational system and human resources. And to maintain the GDP growth, we are using new and advanced industries. Our goal is to raise such industry sectors’ share to 40% by 2030. To achieve it, the infrastructure is in the process of further improvement. A number of Japanese corporations are participating in our broad infrastructure projects not only in improving electric power facilities.
—– According to the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business 2016” ranking, Uzbekistan is among the 10 top improvers from last year. What are the key on-going changes in the Uzbek business environment?
Uzbekistan’s reforms were progressed in the areas of “funding”, “registering property”, and “procedure to start a business”. We have designated 3 free economic zones in the country, and offer many favorable measures for foreign investors, including tax reliefs, preferential treatment for imported equipment and exporting products, and improved banking services. We have set up a call center to assist foreign investors, and we learn from their problems and requests to improve our business environment and that process is always continuing with new attractive terms and contidions in our business climate.
—– How do you see the current Uzbekistan-Japan relations? Which areas should be enhanced for reinforcing the bilateral relations?
Our friendship dates back to the time of the Silk Road. And our cooperative relationship has developed in various areas, particularly since the joint statement of strategic partnership in 2002. Uzbekistan and Japan share the same view towards global issues, and both support the efforts to stabilize the condition in Afghanistan. In economy, we must expand our relationship in the trading, investment, and financial areas. There are two direct flights now in service between Uzbekistan and Japan every week. The areas to be strengthened are energy and tourism. Hotel construction is planned by a Japanese company. And after Prime Minister Abe visited Uzbekistan last year, the Uzbek-Japanese Youth Center of Innovations is being created with the support from universities in both countries. I believe this will symbolize the future relationship between the countries.