In recent years, Uzbekistan, a Central Asian state with a population of 36 million, has emerged as a full-fledged international player. The country has been expanding international trade and actively seeking tourists and foreign investments. It’s hard to imagine that Uzbekistan was a closed authoritarian state just a decade ago, where foreign investors faced challenges, and women and children were subjected to forced labor in cotton fields. However, everything changed when Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed office in 2016, initiating comprehensive reforms that turned Uzbekistan into an open country with a thriving economy. In June of this year, Mirziyoyev was reelected with 87 percent of the vote, securing his presidency until 2030.
The Phenomenon of Shavkat Mirziyoyev: Catalyst for Change
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, born in 1957 into a family of doctors, embarked on a journey that led him to the presidency. With a background in agriculture, he comprehensively understood the challenges faced by the Uzbek economy and its citizens. His experience spanned various administrative levels, from being a scientific researcher at an agricultural institution to serving as a member of the Uzbek parliament. Mirziyoyev served as mayor in a district of the capital, Tashkent, and later as governor in Jizzax and Samarqand provinces. He became Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister in 2003 before assuming the presidency in 2016. Armed with insights gained from diverse administrative roles, Mirziyoyev swiftly initiated radical reforms.
Economic Development through Foreign Investments
Mirziyoyev aimed to rejuvenate Uzbekistan’s economy and generate new job opportunities through foreign investments and state property privatization. Germany, specifically, emerged as a key European partner, with over $2.5 billion in German investments flowing into the country in the last two years. Approximately 200 German-affiliated companies are currently operating in Uzbekistan, ranging from MAN, a truck manufacturer, to CLAAS, specializing in agricultural machinery.
Expanding International Trade Dynamics
Uzbekistan, a significant supplier of cotton, uranium, gold, fruits, and vegetables, has historically maintained state monopolies over the production and export of various goods. However, Mirziyoyev dismantled the practice of forced labor in cotton fields, emphasizing private and foreign investments in the textile industry. Germany stands out as Uzbekistan’s largest European trading partner. The bilateral trade volume between Germany and Uzbekistan reached $1.2 billion last year, with a staggering $929 million in the first half of this year alone.
Green Energy Initiatives
To reduce dependence on fossil fuels and modernize the economy, Mirziyoyev aimed to increase the share of renewable energy in Uzbekistan’s energy mix to 40 percent by 2030. With support from European, Chinese, and Middle Eastern partners, Uzbekistan has actively begun commissioning new solar and wind power installations.
Uzbekistan’s Development Prospects
Mirziyoyev endorsed Uzbekistan’s new development strategy, Uzbekistan 2030, crafted collaboratively by various ministries, parliamentarians, and experts. The strategy aims to double the GDP by 2030, augment exports, enhance education and healthcare, and elevate citizens’ incomes beyond the global average. Uzbekistan seeks to attract $110 billion in foreign investments to realize these ambitious goals, where Germany stands poised as a reliable partner.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s tenure has steered Uzbekistan away from its closed past, embracing a future built on openness, foreign investments, robust trade partnerships, and sustainable energy practices. His reforms have positioned Uzbekistan as a dynamic player on the global stage.