Uzbekistan, home to 36 million people in Central Asia, has recently emerged as a key player on the international stage. The country is actively expanding its global trade networks, attracting foreign investments, and encouraging tourism. It’s remarkable to reflect on Uzbekistan’s transformation from a closed authoritarian state, riddled with barriers for foreign investors and plagued by distressing instances of forced labor, particularly in the cotton industry, just a decade ago.
Mirziyoyev’s Transformative Leadership: A Catalyst for Change
Born into a family of medical professionals in 1957, Shavkat Mirziyoyev‘s diverse career, ranging from academia to various administrative roles, provided him with deep insights into Uzbekistan’s economic landscape. Assuming office in 2016, Mirziyoyev initiated sweeping reforms, releasing political detainees, enabling currency convertibility, streamlining bureaucratic processes for businesses, and strengthening global partnerships.
Economic Renaissance through Foreign Investment
Following Uzbekistan’s separation from the USSR in 1991, the nation inherited a Soviet-style economic structure with outdated industries and an emerging consumer goods sector. Coupled with rapid population growth and limited job opportunities, many Uzbek citizens sought work abroad. Mirziyoyev’s strategic focus was on revitalizing the economy through foreign investments and privatizing state-owned assets, with Germany emerging as a crucial European partner. Over the past two years, Uzbekistan has attracted over $2.5 billion in German investments, with approximately 200 German-affiliated companies operating within its borders.
Expanding International Trade: A Driver of Progress
Uzbekistan, known for its exports of cotton, uranium, gold, fruits, and vegetables, previously monopolized the production and export of many goods. Under Mirziyoyev’s governance, the practice of coerced cotton harvesting was abolished, enabling private and foreign investments in cotton processing and textiles. Germany stands as Uzbekistan’s primary European trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to $1.2 billion last year, primarily driven by German exports of industrial equipment and Uzbek imports of agricultural produce, textiles, and apparel.
Embracing Green Energy Initiatives
To reduce reliance on fossil fuels and modernize the economy, Mirziyoyev aims to elevate the share of renewable energy to 40% of Uzbekistan’s energy mix by 2030. Collaborating actively with Europe, China, and the Middle East, Uzbekistan is embracing new solar and wind power initiatives. Drawing inspiration from Germany, the country introduced competitive bidding for projects aimed at reducing electricity costs. Moreover, households installing solar panels receive state subsidies, marking significant strides toward embracing green energy practices.
Future Trajectory for Uzbekistan
Mirziyoyev recently endorsed Uzbekistan’s 2030 Development Strategy, a collaborative roadmap aimed at doubling GDP, boosting exports, enhancing education and healthcare, and surpassing global average incomes for citizens. The nation aims to attract $110 billion in foreign investments to realize these objectives, with Germany expected to play a pivotal role in this transformative journey.
Under Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visionary leadership, Uzbekistan is witnessing an unprecedented transformation marked by openness, economic diversification, and enhanced global competitiveness, heralding a promising future for the nation and its people.