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SMEs seen as driver of Belarus-Uzbekistan trade

Economy 09.09.2019 | 18:49
Nasirdjan Yusupov. An archive photo
Nasirdjan Yusupov. An archive photo

MINSK, 9 September (BelTA) – A more vibrant cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises will help significantly increase trade between Belarus and Uzbekistan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Uzbekistan to Belarus Nasirdjan Yusupov told reporters on 9 September, BelTA has learned.

During the recent visit of Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Minsk, the two heads of state pointed to the inadequate trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Uzbekistan despite good political contacts. The two leaders set a task to increase the trade up to $1 billion.

“This is quite an ambitious task. It would be wrong to believe that this can be achieved in a short-term perspective. However, the task is absolutely achievable in the long term,” the ambassador said. Indeed, in 2018 the bilateral trade more than doubled over 2017. In 2018, the trade reached $157.4 million; in January-May this year it amounted to $89 million, up more than 15% over the same period a year before.

The Forum of Regions of Belarus and Uzbekistan debuted in Minsk in the summer of 2019. According to the ambassador, it was followed by “very promising large-scale projects”. One of them is production of 5,000 MTZ tractors in Tashkent in 2019-2020 as part of the industrial cooperation and licensing agreement. “This is a two-time increase over the previous period. We can cite many examples like this. However, this pertains to big business. But I believe that small and medium-sized enterprises will make a meaningful contribution to the bilateral trade,” the ambassador said.

The diplomat hopes that the recent forum of regions helped establish direct contacts between businesses of the two states. “These are small springs that will merge into a big river. This will allow hitting the $1 billion target,” the diplomat noted.

According to the ambassador, Uzbekistan is opening up to the world like no other country in the post-Soviet space. The country has launched sweeping reforms. “Uzbekistan does not need anyone's help. It is a self-sufficient country. Uzbekistan needs mutually beneficial cooperation. This is our way,” the ambassador said. The country has enough natural and human resources. Its population grows by about 500,000 annually. “They need jobs, therefore, we need to introduce advanced technology and we want our friends to help us with it. Belarus is among such friends,” Nasirdjan Yusupov said.

He added that companies from Uzbekistan are showing great interest in cooperation. For example, Belarusian medicines are very popular in Uzbekistan. “We do not benefit from this situation. We say: let's skip the buy and sell principle, this is a thing of the past. Let us manufacture these medicines in Uzbekistan. If this works, these medicines will become much cheaper, there will not be any logistics issues and energy costs will drop. These products can be sold not only in Uzbekistan, but also in the neighboring states, like Afghanistan. If we manage to launch such a company, this will be a win-win project,” the ambassador said.

Information technology is another promising avenue of cooperation, he believes. During his visit to Minsk, the president of Uzbekistan toured the Hi-Tech Park on 1 August. An agreement was reached to arrange a visit of the HTP delegation and representatives of Belarus' biggest IT companies to Tashkent. Belarusian tech giants are to leave for Tashkent one of these days. In addition to that, the two countries held the first joint youth forum in the IT sector. An agreement was reached to hold this forum on a regular basis.

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