Bright future of sustainable growth ahead
Since 1991, for nearly two decades of independent evolution, the people of Uzbekistan have made significant progress in building a secular and democratic state with a socially-oriented market economy and establishing an open civil society.
In accomplishing the policy tasks of reforming and renewing the country, Uzbekistan has comprehensively studied and considered the experience of successfully and steadily developing modern democracies of the world while preserving national values, customs and traditions, as well as respectfully treating the people’s mentality.
At the moment, Uzbekistan has begun actively reforming and modernizing the country. An important policy task which Uzbekistan is striving for is further democratization and liberalization of all spheres of political and economic life of the nation, state and public construction, consolidation of the independent judicial power, system of protecting human rights and freedoms, and raising political and economic awareness of its citizens.
Uzbekistan has ensured gradual implementation of the program of social and economic development of the country while the tendencies of sustainable and balanced economic growth rates and macroeconomic stability have been secured. Thanks to a correct development and modernization strategy, developed by President Islam Karimov, and mobilization of efforts for implementation of 2009-2012 Anti-Crisis Programs, the country managed not only to withstand the challenges of the global crisis, but ensure stable economic and social growth.
Macroeconomic stability and stable economic growth rates are proof of the correctness of the economic course chosen by Uzbekistan and acknowledged as the Uzbek model of economic reforms. In 2009, the GDP of Uzbekistan increased by 8.1 percent, industrial production by 9 percent, agricultural production by 5.7 percent, retail trade turnover by 16.6 percent and paid services by 12.9 percent. The state budget was implemented with a surplus without cuts in budget spending, while the inflation level did not exceed the forecast and comprised 7.4 percent.
The measures to strengthen the banking and financial sector have allowed to increase the cumulative capital of the banks twice in the past two years, while the share of bank credits used for investment purposes has reached 70 percent. The country has implemented a series of measures to ensure financial stability of the enterprises of the real sector, mainly through modernization of production, reduction of the products’ cost price, expansion of cooperative ties among local companies and stimulating internal demand. The volume of localized production increased 2.3 times last year, with launch of more than 120 new types of products. Thanks to support and stimulation of local exporting enterprises amid unfavorable conditions at world markets, export volumes increased by 2.4 percent last year.
Uzbekistan has pursued a policy of structural transformation and diversification of the economy, modernization and technical renewal of production, and attraction of investments, mainly foreign ones. New production capacities were launched last year in the automobile building, construction materials, chemical, food, light, pharmaceutical and other industries. Car and railway transport systems and communications have also seen extensive development. The anti-crisis measures taken in 2009 have allowed the creation of more than 940,000 new workplaces, including over 500,000 in the rural areas.
This policy of industrial modernization and sustainable economic growth was carried out by the government during the first half of 2010 as well. The development of the economy was based on sound macroeconomic policies aimed at balancing the state budget, the stability of the banking system and foreign trade surplus, strong stimulation of domestic demand of economic entities and population, the program of technical and technological renewal of the economy and its strategic industries. Economic growth in the first half of this year has reached 8 percent.
At the same time, there are high rates of balanced development in all major economic sectors: industry grew by 8 percent, agriculture by 6.9 percent, construction works by 11.5 percent, retail trade by 10.3 percent and paid services to the population by 12 percent. The state budget was fulfilled with a surplus of 0.2 percent of GDP; inflation amounted to 4 percent within the forecasted parameters. Export of goods and services in the first half of this year increased by 14.3 percent, as a result, a positive balance of foreign trade exceeded by US$2.5 billion.
The success of Uzbekistan in economic development was highly appraised by world’s leading economic and financial institutions. It is noteworthy to say that Uzbekistan hosted last May the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank _ the first ever forum of the Board of Governors of the ADB conducted in Central Asia. In his speech at the opening ceremony President Islam Karimov said that Uzbekistan highly values its growing cooperation with the ADB and considered the bank an important strategic partner, which in recent years has become a leading international financial institution for the country both in terms of its credit portfolio, and in the framework of regional cooperation in Central Asia. Uzbekistan and the ADB have had a long and effective cooperation. The country became a full member of this large international financial institution in 1995.
Through implementation of its own “Uzbek model” and gradual reforms based on five principles set by the head of the state, Uzbekistan has retained macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth. The ADB occupies the top spot among international financial institutions in terms of credit cooperation with Uzbekistan. This cooperation covers many directions, with joint projects implemented in strategic areas like transport infrastructure, energy, agriculture, small business and private entrepreneurship, water resources management, healthcare, education and others.
Uzbekistan and the ADB are cooperating in expanding the network of automobile roads and railways, in particular, development of the Uzbek national highway, which is an important part of the Central Asian regional transport corridor. One of the major ongoing projects in 2009 was the program of financing the water supply and sanitation sphere worth USD 300 million. In the framework of a similar project pipelines are laid and corresponding equipment is being installed in 170 settlements of Kashkadarya and Navoi regions.
The role of Uzbekistan on the international arena has increased as well. As a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and its current chairman, Uzbekistan hosted last June the annual meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of SCO in Tashkent. In their interrelations, SCO member states abide by the “Shanghai Spirit.” The phrase implies a strict adherence to principles and rules of consensus in decision making, mutual confidence and commitment, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and common aspiration to progress. Since the inception of the SCO, which includes the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan and Republic of Uzbekistan, a number of nations have expressed their desire to join the organization. Today, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observer states.
The SCO’s Tashkent summit started with a meeting in a restricted format. It has been attended by Presidents of member countries (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan), and the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyz Republic. During the talks, the sides discussed issues related to perfecting the SCO’s activity as a whole and of its bodies in particular, boosting cooperation in political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres between member states of the organization, consolidating regional security and stability, joining efforts in countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism, drugs and arms smuggling, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the situation in Afghanistan.
The current summit activities of the Republic of Uzbekistan during its presidency of the SCO have received a tremendous amount of positive appraisal. Over this period of time, Uzbekistan has placed particular emphasis on developing the SCO’s international contacts, perfecting the normative and regulatory frameworks, elaborating and implementing initiatives to bolster security and consolidate stability, by adhering to principles, objectives and tasks outlined in the Charter of the Organization.
At the meeting of heads of state in an enlarged format, issues regarding the effects of the global financial and economic slowdown, as well as pressing issues of enhancing relations in economic and social spheres have been put under a wider review, when dealing, in particular, with further acceleration of a multi-faceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within the SCO, along with regional and international issues. The extended meeting was also attended by heads of observer countries, namely Mongolian President T. Elbegdorj, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Manuchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of India Shri S.M. Krishna, while the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and the Turkmen President G. Berdimuhamedov were invited to the summit as honorary guests.
During the meeting, heads of state comprehensively exchanged views on security issues, in particular, information security and joint counteraction against information threats. The leaders also discussed issues pertaining to the development of large-scale economic, financial and investment cooperation amid the global financial and economic crisis, which helps primarily to depreciate the unwelcome impact and prevent harmful consequences of the recession. The summit also provided a platform to exchange views on the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic, during which participants expressed the willingness to support and render necessary assistance to that country. “The critical thing,” said Islam Karimov, “is to find solutions in the legal field and to prevent further escalation of tension.”
At a meeting with media representatives, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov noted that the meeting took place in the spirit of mutual confidence and respect, a working attitude, and that the reached agreements would serve the interests of member nations and observer countries. In reviewing the activity of the SCO over its entire existence, the President emphasized the open and non-bloc nature the organization has been cementing that avoids confrontational approaches to addressing hot issues of regional and international development. Beyond any doubt, the SCO summit in Tashkent will go down in the history of the organization as a summit during which critical agreements were reached on uplifting its efficiency, bolstering regional cooperation and security.
The government also pays great attention to the country’s young generation. The year 2010 was proclaimed by President Islam Karimov as a “Year of Harmoniously Developed Generation” in Uzbekistan.
“Proclaiming 2010 the Year of Harmoniously Developed Generation, we set the goal of creating all required opportunities and conditions for the comprehensive development of our children. Construction of sports facilities helps attract more children to sports and healthy lifestyle,” Islam Karimov noted.
The “Year of Harmoniously Developed Generation” for 2010 pays special attention to the continuation of the work carried out in the physical training and sports field, in particular, the development of children’s sports, construction of modern sports facilities in the cities and villages, and providing them with equipment and qualified trainers. Bringing up a harmoniously developed generation is the greatest goal of the people, who strongly believe in a bright future. No matter which development goals are set by the country, seeing our children grow physically and morally healthy is the basis of all achievements.
Over the years of Uzbekistan’s independence, a huge amount of work has been implemented in this direction. The National Professionals Preparation Program, acknowledged worldwide as the Uzbek model of continuous education, is the basis for solution of the long-term tasks. A harmoniously developed generation means, first of all, healthy children. This is why in over the past years particular attention was paid to forming high intellectual potential, independent thinking, the development of mass sports and construction of modern sports complexes in all regions.
The head of the state highlighted the successful work in construction of sports complexes and school gyms and providing them with modern equipment, and touched upon other aspects of children’s sports development. “Sport helps young people become physically strong and healthy, harmoniously developed and independent persons. Sports serve as a certain basis for the formation of the healthy atmosphere in the family and the society. Moreover, it creates opportunities for the further growth of the image of Uzbekistan in the international arena,” Islam Karimov said.
The three-level system of attracting young people to sports the Umid Nihollari and Barkamol Avlod competitions, as well as the Universiad, which form an integral part of the National Professionals Preparation Program helps prepare self-sacrificing sportsmen who spare no strength and energy in fighting for the honor of the country. The motto “Uzbekistan is a country with a great future” includes, among other aspects, the development of sports and children’s sports in particular, the President said.
“There is no doubt that natural riches, economic potential and achievements in state and social construction are the basis of the great future. At the same time, there is another factor of the great future, which is the health of the young generation and its physical and moral development,” Islam Karimov concluded.
Despite the fact that Uzbekistan and South Korea are divided by a long distance, our countries are bonded by strong friendship ties. In 2006, Tashkent and Seoul signed a joint declaration on strategic partnership. The two states regularly hold high-level meetings, which reflect the intensive development of bilateral relations. On February 11, Presidents Islam Karimov and Lee Myung-Bak met at Cheong Wa Dae.
The summit took place during the state visit of the President of Uzbekistan to Seoul. During the face-to-face talks, the two leaders considered the present state and perspectives of relations between Uzbekistan and South Korea, as well as regional and international issues. Among the issues the presidents considered were security, cooperation in fighting international terrorism and extremism, arms and drugs smuggling and non-proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction. The two leaders discussed cooperation within international organizations. Uzbekistan and South Korea support each other’s initiatives in the international political arena. In particular, Uzbekistan supports the position of Seoul on solving the problem on the Korean peninsula in a peaceful way, the South Korean leadership’s “New Asian Diplomacy” initiative and its energy strategy. Islam Karimov and Lee Myung-Bak were unanimous in the opinion that denuclearization of the North Korea was an important condition for preservation of peace and stability in the Northeast Asia. Also, Tashkent supports PyeongChang as a candidate for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The economic cooperation between Uzbekistan and South Korea is developing rapidly. The states implement large projects in oil and gas, mining, car building, logistics, textile and chemical industries, construction, ICT and other sectors. South Korea is one of the largest investment partners of Uzbekistan. The volume of South Korean investments in the Uzbek economy has exceeded $2 billion. The sides reached agreements on 35 investment projects worth a total of over $500 million to be implemented in Navoi free industrial zone. Cooperation of Uzbekistan with KOGAS, Korean Gas Corporation, includes conduction of geological survey works on gas deposits and their development, as well as production of polyethylene and polypropylene. Within this project, Uzbekistan is expecting to attract $ 3.12 billion of South Korean investments.
In the field of trade, Uzbekistan and South Korea have been enjoying the most favored country regime since 1992. In 2008, the bilateral trade turnover exceeded USD 2 billion, and last year the figure climbed to $ 1.2 billion. The volume of bilateral trade has reached USD 0.72 billion in the first half of 2010, which gives hope that it will exceed last year’s figure by at least twofold.
After the negotiations in Seoul, the sides signed a total of 16 documents, covering cooperation in areas like infrastructure, medicine, environmental protection, tourism, agriculture, etc. Among them are an agreement on cooperation in development of alternative energy sources and power saving technologies and an investment agreement on the project of construction of a Ustyurt gas and chemical complex at Surgil deposit (northern Uzbekistan). Uzbekistan and South Korea also agreed on the creation of a “Seoul Park” in the city of Tashkent.
The summit in Seoul proved the fact that bilateral relations have achieved within the last years its highest level of mutual respect and trust. Uzbekistan and South Korea will continue to extend bilateral cooperation on such a basis in the years to come.