Author:Dr.A.P. Seitov(Phd in Sociology), Dr.Yakubov B.S.(Phd in Political Science)
A wide range of national and international experts believe that in recent years the Republic of Uzbekistan under the leadership of Shavkat Mirziyoyev has achieved significant results in the implementation of a balanced and constructive foreign policy and the development of friendly and mutually beneficial relations with foreign countries. This has been facilitated by a number of factors, among which the following can be highlighted.
First, the phased and purposeful implementation of the “Priority – Central Asia” principle in the republic’s foreign policy. Thanks to this, a completely new political atmosphere has been formed in the Central Asian region since 2017, and ties based on friendship and trust have been strengthened. As a practical result, we can highlight the consistent resolution of the difficult tasks of ensuring security and stability, sustainable socio-economic development of Central Asia.
On this way many barriers were removed, conditions for free movement of citizens, active cultural and tourist exchanges were created. A favourable environment has been formed, which contributes to the growth of mutual trade and investment. Only for the last five years the volume of intraregional commodity turnover has doubled. Joint industrial cooperation projects have been launched in the region, efficient value chains are being created, transport and energy infrastructures are being developed. Most importantly, all these positive changes are felt by the brotherly peoples of Central Asia.
For example, in July of this year, Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree ratifying Uzbekistan’s agreement on the demarcation of the state border with Kazakhstan. To put it bluntly, after decades of uncertainty and difficulty, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have safely resolved disputes over the common border along its entire length.
The agreement completed the establishment of the state border and created the most important conditions to ensure its security and integrity. According to it, the length of the demarcation line between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan exceeds 2,300 km. This agreement was signed by presidents of two countries Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on December 22, 2022 in Tashkent. Recall that negotiations on demarcation began in 2003 and ended under the current president. During this time 100 commission meetings and 34 working group meetings were held. The field work to install border markers ended in 2021.
Thus, it simplifies the lives of ordinary people and entrepreneurs in both countries. For example, there are already substantive negotiations on simplification of procedures for transit and customs declaration and control of goods, prevention of accumulation of vehicles at the border. Work on automation of customs procedures, mutual recognition of customs control results and implementation of the “One Stop” project at the state border has been intensified. It is already possible to talk about the prospects for the possible introduction of a paperless digital transit ecosystem between the countries of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea region.
In this context, we note that in July 2022 the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a special resolution on strengthening interconnectedness between Central and South Asia, developed by Uzbekistan in co-authorship with 40 countries. Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed the initiative to adopt this resolution and enshrine in it common approaches, basic principles and areas of dialogue between the regions at the high- level conference in Tashkent “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”, which was held in July 2021.
The resolution stresses the importance of strengthening cooperation for the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and its Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries for 2014-2024, as well as the key importance of transport and transit corridors for accelerating economic growth, improving trade and^ economic relations among Central and South Asian countries and realizing their unique transport, transit and investment potential.
Second, Uzbekistan under the leadership of Shavkat Mirziyoyev has consistently advocated a conjunction of major powers’ strategies toward Central Asia to turn the region into a space of mutually beneficial cooperation rather than a zone of rivalry. The US, EC and India have revised their strategies for Central Asia to reflect the changes in their approach and the increased attention of the international community to the region.
Further development of mutually beneficial cooperation with China, Russia, the USA, South Korea, and a number of European and Asian states was given an impetus. A number of relevant policy documents have been developed and adopted, and roadmaps for the further development of multifaceted cooperation with foreign countries, including Japan, Germany, France, Italy and others have been approved.
Third, Uzbekistan continues to pursue a balanced course toward Afghanistan. Shavkat Mirziyoyev has noted that he views the country as an integral part of Central Asia, expressing an interest in establishing Afghanistan as a peaceful and independent state. Uzbekistan is confident that the land of Afghanistan should no longer pose a threat to the countries of the region and the international community as a whole.
In this regard, the state seeks to focus its efforts on creating real prerequisites for the establishment of Afghanistan as a stable and prosperous country free from terrorism, war and drugs. Uzbekistan is making a significant contribution to international efforts to promote the socio-economic and humanitarian revival of Afghanistan, including by promoting major transregional infrastructure projects.
Fourth, the partnership with the UN has reached a qualitatively new stage of development. Thus, since 2017, at the initiative of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, four resolutions have been adopted within the framework of the UN, designed to improve the framework and mechanisms of international cooperation in the field of regional cooperation, interfaith understanding, sustainable tourism development. The important initiatives put forward by the head of our state during the meetings of the 72nd, 75th and 76th UN General Assemblies, which have served as a solid contribution of the republic to the development of mutually beneficial international cooperation, also deserve special attention.
Fifth, partnerships with international financial institutions are being strengthened, and work with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, ADB, IDB, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and others is being redesigned.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has become a strategic partner in Uzbekistan’s sustainable development. The bank’s portfolio of projects in the country has exceeded 4 billion euros, of which projects for 3.3 billion euros have been launched during the last four years. In 2023, the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which gathered 2.5 thousand guests, was held in Samarkand, which is a manifestation of high international respect and confidence in our country and reforms. ,
According to the results of 2022, Uzbekistan became one of the five main partners of the bank. In terms of annual investment volumes, it has become the largest business partner in Central Asia. Most importantly, the approaches and objectives of Uzbekistan and the EBRD regarding private sector development are also close and similar. This is evidenced by the fact that the share of private business in the bank’s projects in the country has now reached 55 percent.
Cooperation in such topical areas as green energy, drinking water supply, road and transport infrastructure, and ecology is developing especially rapidly. In the sphere of renewable energy, major projects have been launched with the participation of the Bank’s funds to the amount of 600 million Euros. Such active cooperation also serves as a “catalyst” for attracting other foreign investors to the country’s economy.
The Republic continues an active dialogue on accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to find its rightful place in the world trade system, consistent with the capabilities of our economy and human potential. WTO accession processes are supported by an accelerated policy of further liberalization of markets for goods, services, capital and labor, as well as accession to global production chains.
Over the past years more than 70 missions of the Fund have visited Uzbekistan, expert and technical assistance is expanding. Today the issues of further development of multifaceted cooperation in such priority areas as reforms to ensure macroeconomic stability, improvement of monetary and fiscal policy are being discussed.
Uzbekistan obtained observer status in the EAEU by participating in multilateral events and projects aimed at developing mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. We have carried out effective work to create favorable conditions and find new points of growth and opportunities to expand trade relations. Effective platforms for stimulating business dialogue have been created, including with the involvement of the potential of the regions of our countries. As an example, the international industrial exhibition INNOPROM. Central Asia. In April 2023, it was successfully held for the third time in Tashkent, which resulted in investment agreements and trade contracts worth over 10 billion dollars.
Sixth, under the leadership of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the economic component of diplomatic activities was strengthened, and the efficiency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was dramatically improved in such areas as promoting exports of domestic enterprises, attracting foreign investment, advanced technology and knowledge, modernizing industry and infrastructure, and increasing the flow of tourists to Uzbekistan. Thus, if by the end of 2016 – exports amounted to 11.1 billion U.S. dollars. In 2016 it was $11.1 billion, and by the end of 2022 it will be $19.3 billion. IN 2022 IT WAS ALREADY 19.3 BILLION U.S. DOLLARS. All this shows that Uzbekistan has made an obvious shift toward economizing international cooperation and strengthening economic pragmatism in its foreign policy.
Since 2021, Uzbekistan operates under the GSP+ system of preferences, which allows duty-free exports to the EU of more than 6,200 types of goods. The essence of GSP+ is the reduction or elimination of tariff rates on certain types of goods produced in developing countries and imported by them into developed countries. To obtain this status, Uzbekistan has worked hard to achieve compliance with 27 major international conventions on human labor rights, including the eradication of child and forced labof in the cotton harvest, environmental protection, and others.
Thanks to the positive impact of the “GSP+” regime, trade turnover between Uzbekistan and the European Union in 2022 increased by 20%, and since the beginning of 2023 – by 70%. Moreover, the portfolio of projects with the participation of European business exceeds 20 billion euros. Moreover, Mirziyoyev stated that exporters from Uzbekistan are ready to supply the European market with more than 500 items of industrial goods worth 4 billion euros.
At the same time, favorable conditions for the inflow of external investments, primarily direct investments, are being formed within Uzbekistan. Thus, income of foreign investors in the form of dividends on shares is exempted from income tax for a period of three years, and the profit tax rate is reduced from 20 to 12 percent for them. Of particular importance is the establishment of a strict ban on the introduction of new or harsher penalties in the tax and customs legislation. Customs duties on raw materials and goods of more than 7 thousand names have been abolished for investors. A simplified procedure of processing in the customs territory was introduced. 132 licensing and permitting documents were abolished, 33 – transferred to the notification form.
In order to promptly address investment issues and establish a direct dialogue between investors and the head of state, the Foreign Investors Council under the President began its work. As Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted, “I try to communicate with representatives of foreign companies and business circles as often as possible. Your ideas, suggestions and initiatives inspire, give me strength and encourage me to make new changes. Therefore, I am ready to meet with every new investor and personally guarantee the success of your business in our country.
Seventh, in recent years Uzbekistan has focused on being proactive in its foreign policy and has distanced itself from the role of a passive observer of the processes taking place in the region and the world. The fact that Uzbekistan has become a member of more than 100 international organizations and a party to more than 200 international multilateral treaties is evidence of this.
In this context, Uzbekistan’s activism within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) draws particular attention. In particular, 30 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population are accounted for by the member countries of this Organization. The Samarkand summit of the SCO, held in September 2022, was a special and significant international event in terms of the importance of the discussed agenda of the organization and its expansion to new countries. By uniting the world’s largest states into one organization, the SCO has an impressive economic, political and demographic potential in the world.
The increasing number of states wishing to join the organization demonstrates that the SCO is primarily an economic association, where the format of the organization makes it possible to address global and regional issues on which the prospects for organizing sustainable development in nation-states depend. Today the SCO is entering a new, even more responsible stage of its development under the proposed Samarkand Solidarity Initiative for Common Security and Prosperity.
We should also highlight Uzbekistan’s accession as a permanent member to the% Turkic Council, which was further reorganized into the Organization of Turkic States. The activation of cooperation with this organization opens new opportunities for our country to develop multifaceted relations both with neighboring states and extra- regional close partners (Turkey and Azerbaijan).
In November 2022, a meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) was held in the city of Samarkand. Samarkand, a symbol of peace and friendship, a center of science and education, was proclaimed the “Capital of Turkic Civilization. Today Uzbekistan is convinced of the importance of taking the activities of the TSG to a qualitatively new level, increasing its authority, fully utilizing the potential of cooperation to ensure the implementation of decisions and agreements made within the framework of the Organization.
Uzbekistan continues active interaction with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and considers it an effective platform aimed at preserving and promoting sacred Islamic values, strengthening solidarity among Muslim peoples, contributing to their progress and prosperity.
Interaction with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has reached a new level as an important international forum for dialogue among states on security issues, economic development, and the protection of human rights and freedoms.
Eighth, the humanization of foreign policy, personally initiated by Shavkat Mirziyoyev since 2017. This can be seen in the increased concern of the state for the interests of Uzbek citizens abroad, including through the provision of public services to compatriots and their involvement in the implementation of socio-economic, cultural and humanitarian projects. The establishment and activities of the “Vatandoshlar” Public Foundation deserve special attention, which was another significant contribution to supporting our citizens abroad and strengthening dialogue with them.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized that “at present about 2 million people work abroad to feed their families, far away from their families, parents and children … We should say thank you to our compatriots, who receive income in foreign countries, as well as work experience and practice. They are our children and brothers.”
Uzbekistan understands that these and other foreign policy achievements of the country are milestones on the way of implementation of the Strategy of New Uzbekistan. Thus, the pre-election program of Shavkat Mirziyoyev, candidate to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan from the Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businessmen – Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, which consists of 5 main initiatives, was presented to the domestic and international public. One of them is a thesis that in case of his election as President of the country, Uzbekistan will continue a consistent, systematic, deeply thought-out, pragmatic foreign policy and economic diplomacy. This applies to the activities of the New Uzbekistan in ensuring the safe and peaceful life of the multinational people of our homeland.
We understand that Uzbekistan, as an independent state, lives in an external difficult and complex situation in the world, which directly affects the region of Central Asia. There is a rapid transformation of the international order with consequences that are difficult to predict. We are witnessing a growing deficit of * dialogue and trust at the global level. As a result of the intensifying crisis phenomena in the global economy, the countries of the world are facing problems of disruption of traditional supply chains, imported inflation is growing, and the risks of food and energy security have multiplied.
Under these conditions, the need for Uzbekistan to pursue an open, pragmatic and proactive foreign policy is even greater. Its basic principles within the framework of the new Uzbekistan, initiated by Shavkat Mirziyoyev, always proceed from the national interests of the multinational people and state.
On April 30, 2023, a very important, truly historic event occurred in the life of Uzbekistan. For the first time, on the basis of a nationwide referendum, we adopted an updated Constitution. With this historic choice, the people of Uzbekistan once again demonstrated high trust and full support for the reforms initiated by Shavkat Mirziyoyev six years ago.
On the basis of the Constitution in the new edition, Uzbekistan in the current difficult situation in the world will continue the peace-loving foreign policy, develop friendly relations and cooperation in all spheres with the states of near and far abroad.
To further strengthen the country’s sovereignty, new initiatives and programs will be developed to meet the challenges of global climate change, food security, energy, logistics, and the negative impact of water scarcity.
In the current difficult situation in the world, the republic will continue its foreign policy based on mutual trust and respect. Uzbekistan will continue to focus on strengthening multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation with all Central Asian countries, as well as the states – our strategic partners and international organizations.
Thus, the candidate from the UzLiDeP sets the following tasks in the sphere of the country’s foreign policy:
- Uzbekistan’s initiatives in the political, trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres will continue to be actively promoted in the international arena. First of all, we will rapidly develop relations of good-neighborliness and strategic partnership with neighboring countries.
- In Central Asia, practical cooperation in various areas, such as the rational use of water resources, the development of transport corridors, etc., will be brought to a new level of quality.
Uzbekistan proposes to actively introduce new forms and mechanisms to stimulate mutual trade in Central Asia. We are talking about creating a system of cross-border trade zones, with unified rules and procedures for the supply of goods. Here it is important to understand and support efforts to replace expensive and not always high quality imports from third countries with products of regional producers. The next important task is to promote joint industrial cooperation projects.
Business circles interested in creating industries that take advantage of the competitive advantages and mutual complementarity of Central Asian economies will receive support. In this regard, Uzbekistan supports the development of common approaches to the formation of the Central Asian space of industrial localization and import substitution on the basis of national programs of industrial development.
It is proposed to pay special attention to the digitalization of economic sectors, which will reduce production costs and ensure the competitiveness of Central Asian products. At the same time, it is important to create a unified favorable business climate to improve the overall regional investment attractiveness of Central Asia.
- Uzbekistan will continue to support our compatriots abroad, creating the necessary conditions for their active participation in the development of our country. Among them, systematic measures will be taken to popularize their native language, national culture and traditions.
The coverage will be expanded and training in labor professions and foreign languages for migrants will become mandatory. Assistance will be provided so that migrants can work in European and Asian countries, where they are paid decent wages. We will create an opportunity for our compatriots to receive government services remotely from anywhere in the world. We will provide legal and other assistance to those who find themselves in difficult situations. We will create new opportunities for children of migrants to enter universities. “In a word, we will not allow Uzbek citizens abroad to be left alone with their problems,” Mirziyoyev concluded.
Such issues as complete reform of the system of external labor migration, expansion of coverage of training in labor professions and foreign languages of citizens going abroad, as well as construction of additional 1 million housing units to provide the population with affordable housing, provision of builders and citizens with affordable and long-term loans were also reflected.
- Uzbekistan will provide all possible assistance to the Afghan people and facilitate the establishment of peace and tranquility in the neighboring state. It is planned to take an active part in the construction of the Termez-Mazar-e-Sharif- Kabul-Peshawar railroad, as well as strategically important projects in the energy, trade and industrial spheres.
A common priority for the world community should be the reconstruction of the economy of Afghanistan, which is an important condition for achieving lasting peace in this long-suffering country. In particular, this includes its integration into interregional economic processes, the implementation of infrastructure and socially important projects.
- Further strengthening relations with such foreign policy partners of Uzbekistan as China, Russia, the United States, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India, Pakistan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and others will remain a priority.
- We are planning to expand the geography of our foreign relations. Exploring new markets, attracting investment and innovation, increasing the flow of tourists and, most importantly, actively promoting the image of Uzbekistan will continue to be the main tasks of all diplomatic missions of our country.
- Work in United Nations bodies and institutions, global and regional economic, financial and humanitarian organizations will be strengthened. Concrete practical steps will be taken to join the WTO. Uzbekistan, as an observer state under the EAEU, will continue to participate in multilateral events and projects aimed at developing mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation within the Union.
- Cooperation in transport and transit is a strategic area of foreign policy. In the current realities, it is important to strengthen joint work on the formation of alternative transport corridors and the creation of sustainable logistics chains. Uzbekistan supports the development of international North-South routes and other highways connecting Central Asia with China, the Middle East and South Asia. We are in favor of close coordination in tariff policy issues.
- Uzbekistan on the basis of a holistic system will improve the investment and business climate in the country, forming an even more favorable environment for investors. The Foreign Investors Council under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be a crucial link in establishing a* direct dialogue with foreign investors, joint development of mutually beneficial projects and long-term strategies.
In conclusion, we note that the relevant provisions of Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s election program proceed from the vision of the country’s foreign policy due to the high dynamics of Uzbekistan’s transformation, the transition to a new stage of formation of a democratic legal state with a developed market economy. Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that the country will actually continue to implement the idea of developing the New Uzbekistan, including in foreign policy.