Uzbekistan: Land of Economic Opportunity

2 Oct

Lord Venal is back from his long summer holiday and has some investment advice for Kazaxia’s readers

Uzbekistan, often seen as a basket case economy by many observers, would seem to be the new promised land of economic opportunity, if a thought-provoking piece on Jamestown is to be believed.

Richard Weitz comments on moves taking place to make Uzbekistan an investor’s dream as the government strives to diversify the economy and make the country an attractive place to do business in.

The building formerly known as Bankland, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

He rightly points out that the role of cotton in the Uzbek economy is now lessening in favour of other industries. One sector that could prove interesting to investors  is the gold industry.  Since Britain’s Oxus Gold’s interests in a mine in Uzbekistan were handed over to its Uzbek partners in 2011 there has been a significant gap in the market for foreign investors to fill.

Opportunities abound in telecoms

The telecoms sector is another booming one in Uzbekistan. With the recent court cases opened against Russia’s MTS by the authorities in Tashkent, there should be plenty of takers for the company which was once the country’s largest operator.

One problem highlighted by Weitz is potential labour shortages in Uzbekistan with unemployment at a very low 1.3% according to the International Labor Organization. The Uzbeks have found a way around this thorny issue by sending school children and teachers  along with, university students and lecturers to help out with the cotton harvest.

Weitz cites ‘experts’ who feel that the country should relinquish ‘self-censorship’ in the media to allow information to flow freely and to re-establish currency conversion instead of the current system which sees Uzbek citizens having to go to the black market to get their hands on hard currency at extortionate rates.

With the stability offered by Islam Karimov, at the helm for more than 20 years,  Uzbekistan is indeed the land of economic opportunity for foreign investors.

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